3 ¶ To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
Throughout the Old Testament, God emphasizes that in order of priority, ritual and service to God are empty of meaning if you don’t do what He has said in your day to day dealings with others. In other words you can’t hide out in the church like some medieval monk in a monastery to avoid having to deal in the world. You must be out there most of the time and out there doing right. That is more important to God than your sacrifice is, without that.
And even judgment pales in comparison to mercy.
Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
Jesus emphasizes this twice in Matthew, once in regard to His eating dinner with tax collectors;
Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
And once in response to His disciples being accused of Sabbath breaking;
Matthew 12:7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
James also emphasizes mercy.
James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
But with regard to this Proverb, God lays out what the essence of His requirement of man to God under the Law is in Micah. It would appear to apply at all times.
Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Jesus Himself accuses the twice separated, temple going, fundamentalist, religious people of the first century.
Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Notice Jesus wouldn’t be saying to you not to come to church, go knocking on doors, hand out tracts, or to give liberally to the work but that if that’s all you’re doing you’re leaving some important things out.
In fact, Jesus tells the Jews, and there is no reason not to apply this in the way you can safely do to the church age without confusion, that your relationship with others must be straightened out in that if someone has something against you, you should deal with that before He wants anything from you with regard to religious service. And since we are the temple of the Holy Ghost now and the altar He is referring to would be in our own hearts this takes on an even more personal importance.
Matthew 5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Doing justice and judgment is very important to God. Before the Law of Moses;
Genesis 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
And under the Law given to Moses;
Psalm 82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Now, the Gentile or Jewish Christian in the age of the Christian Church is not given the power to enact civil law in the dispensing of justice and judgment. It is not given to us to rule over men in a political sense. When Romans, chapter 13 was penned there were no kings or magistrates of high authority that we know of who claimed to be Christian. So, our application must be on a personal level and within the church body itself.
Christ, therefore, wants you to do right, to do justly, and to judge correctly within the relationships you have and particularly in the house of God, which is the church, which is you, the people. This takes precedence over your service, your work for God, not meaning that your service isn’t important but that it has to be put in the proper perspective. You are incapable of doing God’s justice and judgment unless you have the fruit of the Spirit manifested in your lives. Examine yourselves.
On top of that, Christ wants unity from us in regard to judgment so that we seek to follow Christ and not a man or a false culture of Christianity in part of society.
1Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
And our judgment is to be in love for each other.
Philippians 1:9 ¶ And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
This is not to say that we are all robots who have no personal convictions that aren’t shared necessarily by others;
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
But, we must, in order to be just, live by that faith we are given by God.
Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
And be just in our dealings. For example, employers;
Colossians 4:1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.
Pastors, particularly, must be just in their dealings within the body of Christ.
Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
We, as Christians, must be just and impartial, not playing favorites, letting this one off the hook for their behavior but holding that one to a different standard, but we must also do judgment, discerning between what is good and bad, sound doctrine and heresy, and literal, Biblical truth or the imagination of some charismatic individual trying to control us. And God regards justice and judgment as more acceptable than sacrifice, not to ignore sacrifice but to regard your service and offering to God as incomplete without Godly justice and judgment.