The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
If your normally grumpy husband becomes warm and cheerful, you conclude he has done something wrong. When your terminally irritable wife surprises you with your favorite meal, you question her motives. Experience has taught you that these brief improvements in behavior usually have strings attached.
I recall a relative from my childhood who had a drinking problem. One day he took me and another family member for a ride in the country. I was only about 10-years-old at the time and unfamiliar with the warning signs of inebriation. Just thought he was louder than usual. Eventually, he became hostile which led me to cry. His response was to apologize for upsetting me, and then he threw dollar bills into the back seat to make me feel better. It did, but from that moment on I worried that his dangerous behavior would be repeated.
Now, there is nothing wrong with seeking to earn someone’s favor with a gift. When we treat one another badly or inadvertently offend someone, then an extra measure of kindness is appropriate. The Apostle Peter taught that “Love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) Paul added, “Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)
Genuine remorse, love, and requests for forgiveness help us maintain healthy relationships. However, when there is an ulterior motive without regret or intent to correct bad behavior, then these guilt sacrifices of kindness are merely a ruse; a tiny Band-Aid insufficient for healing the bigger wound.
You can’t buy your way out of wickedness. All the gifts and phony apologies in the world won’t make amends for repeated amoral behavior against another, which brings me to our focus text. “The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked…” You can’t buy God’s favor.
God is not on a brownie point system. An unredeemed individual is incapable of earning special treatment from the Lord as the result of a sacrificial gift.
Now, I would never criticize someone for giving to the needy. Helping those less fortunate makes a heart feel good — as it should. It’s a commendable act. But although it may impress me and you, such benevolence does not influence God.
There is only one sacrificial gift God accepts, and that’s the gift of His Son. That’s why “the prayer of the upright pleases him.” We are considered “upright” because of the gift of Christ. Without Jesus we remain lost in our trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1) With Him we can “…approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.” (Hebrews 4:16) And as we saw in yesterday’s devotional, God desires one-on-one fellowship with His children.
Doesn’t it make you feel good to please the people you love? Then don’t miss this important point from Proverbs 15:8. The Lord, whom you love, is “pleased” when you engage Him in prayer.
If you have grown children, aren’t you pleased when you get to talk to them? They have busy lives and fitting in a little time for you is special. It pleases you. The reason it means so much is because you love them. And the reason that our prayers please God is because we are His children, and He loves us.
When you’re with your loved ones, you want to catch up on what’s been happening in their lives. God wants the same from you. Yes, He already knows the intimate details of your life. He just wants you to share them with Him.
But the Lord wants more than just surface chatter. He wants to know your concerns, worries, problems, and challenges. Just as you are compelled to give sage advice to your children, the heavenly Father wants to counsel you. And His advice is flawless and always with your best interest at heart.
So why don’t you please God right now? Take advantage of the privilege only available to those who believe in Christ. No matter how hard the lost person tries, he is incapable of pleasing God. But you can please Him. Just by praying.
For more on this topic, check out this article: The Extent of the Lord’s Forgiveness
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.