Proverbs 21:3

ESV To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
NIV To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
NASB To do righteousness and justice Is preferred by the Lord more than sacrifice.
CSB Doing what is righteous and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
NLT The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.
KJV To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

What does Proverbs 21:3 mean?

Scripture often notes that, while actions are important, they are driven by attitudes. Our thoughts matter just as much as our deeds. In the same way, the overall pattern of our lives matters more than occasional acts of piety. Any confusion about this is answered here. The Lord is pleased with a holy, justice-seeking life (Proverbs 1:7) more than hollow acts of religious ritual.

The prophet Micah (Micah 6:6–7) asked God what He desired. Micah's suggestions included burnt offerings, year-old calves, thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil, and even his firstborn son. He receives the answer that God's expectations are not defined purely by material sacrifices. His will for mankind is rooted in justice, kindness, and humility. (Micah 6:8).

This and other portions of the Bible note that religious rituals or offerings cannot balance out disobedience to God (Proverbs 15:8). The Lord ordered King Saul to completely erase the Amalekites and their livestock (1 Samuel 15:3). Instead, Saul spared the enemy king and what he thought was the best of their livestock (1 Samuel 15:9). His disobedience showed that his heart was not right with the Lord. When the prophet Samuel confronted Saul, Saul said he had kept the best of the sheep and the oxen to sacrifice to God. Yet this was not an acceptable reason to disobey God's clear command. Samuel replied, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?" (1 Samuel 15:22).
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