God exists in the human incarnation. God also identifies Himself with the devotees and therefore, there is no difference between God and God’s devotee. God is also pleased when you offer the food to hungry poor people in the name of God. The offering of the food to the statue may look like cheating because the food is not really taken by God. But, it has its own good side. It develops the devotion to God in the mind of devotee. It is the beginning stage of devotion. Any action in the beginning stage is associated with defects as said in the Gita (sarvaarambhaahi…). In spite of the defects, there is the good angle that every development has to come from its beginning stage only. Beginning is inevitable for the development. Therefore, the beginning should not be criticized and mocked, which may give negative effect. The devotee may be discouraged and the development of his devotion may be arrested. At the same time, if the devotee sits in the beginning stage only for a long time, constructive criticism can be given so that the devotee enters the practical devotion without further delay. Your criticism should uplift the devotee. It should not degrade the devotee from the beginning stage itself.
The devotee may not practically sacrifice the food, but, such devotee is better than an atheist, who neither sacrifices nor at least offers the food to God. The atheist may practically offer the food to some hungry poor person without the name of the God. He is rewarded with a temporary stay in the heaven. A devotee may not practically sacrifice the food, but offering it to the God is certainly a beginning step for the permanent upliftment. Therefore, a devotee with theoretical devotion is better than the atheist with the practical sacrifice. Certainly, by the grace of the God, the devotee also will enter into the stage of practical sacrifice as said in the Gita (kshipram bhavati dharmaatmaa …).