"Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees (religious leaders) saw this, they said to His disciples, 'Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?' But when Jesus heard this, He said, 'It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners...'" Matthew 9:10-13 (NASB)
Let's say, for argument sake, God keeps score concerning our religious activities, like going to church, praying, reading the Bible, taking communion, baptism, etc..., and how we treat others. If we would place a number value on our actions, what would you give for church attendance? Probably a 10? What about reading the Bible? Maybe another 10? You get the idea.
How do you think God would score how we treat people? Do you think He would score equally? Like 10 points for telling the truth, and being kind? 10 points for helping an old lady across the street? Definitely!
When we say it like that, both should be equally valuable, but we tend to believe our actions toward God are worth more, and Jesus very clearly says that He desires compassion and not sacrifice. Jesus is communicating how we treat people is equally important as how we act in religious settings. People in Jesus day, like today, were simply going to synagogue (church) and sacrificing (giving) to fulfill their sense of religious duty instead of being motivated by a love for God and desire to Worship Him. You can understand why Jesus would desire compassion (sincere love) instead of actions motivated by duty. Would you want your friends to hang out with because they genuinely like your company or because your Mom paid them to spend time with you? You get it! Jesus feels the same way.
I'm sure you don't act the same at church and youth group as you do at school. We need to ask why that is. Why are you different? Is it because you are different? Or is it because you are the same person acting in a different way? And who are you anyway? Are you a Jesus Follower? Are you an Unbeliever?
Why the behavior change when you are in different environments? You are either one or the other. If you are a Jesus Follower, then live for Him no matter where you are. If you love people well and are kind at church, then do the same wherever you are. Show compassion in all circumstances. When you love, regardless of how others treat you, people will see Jesus more clearly.
The reason we go to church, pray, read the Bible, and spend time with other Followers, is so that we can be infused with Jesus' life and grow. When we "hang" with Jesus, we are empowered to love others the way He loved us. The Pharisees were incapable of this because they did not have a relationship with God. They were score keepers, only keeping score of their religious activity, and forgetting that God hypothetically (not really) keeps score of both how we love Him and Others.
We need to know that How we love God and others is directly related and equally important. So keep score God's way. Love God through obedience and Love Others through compassion.