“Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice” (Proverbs 21:2, 3)
There is a contrast in these verses. On one hand we have the Lord. On the other we have man. It says that the Lord desires righteousness and justice more than sacrifice. So it suggests that man is willing to sacrifice for the Lord, but he desires righteousness and justice.
This sacrifice could be a temple sacrifice or it could be service, doing the Lord’s work. It’s a theme in Christian churches today to push the congregation to serve, and rightly. There is a saying that ten percent of the people in a church do ninety percent of the work and that is an accurate assumption. There is justification in this push to service as it is written, “…faith without works is useless” (James 2:20). But, still it says that the Lord requires us to do righteousness and justice first and even James does not suggest that works alone is enough, just that it is required in addition to faith.
To be righteous is to be in accordance with virtue or morality. As Christians, our virtue, our morality is God’s laws and Christ’s teachings, which are really one in the same. God desires first that we are virtuous, that we conform to his principles. This is faith that we not only believe in God and in Jesus, but that we are virtuous.
Now if we have faith, then aren’t we commanded to serve and to sacrifice ourselves for Christ’s sake? It is at this point when God calls us to service. At this point we can take to heart what was said in James. If we have faith, but do not serve, then our faith is useless, so we are to serve, to sacrifice so that our faith is useful to God. When we have faith then our sacrifice is the outpouring of our righteousness and justice which is what God truly requires.