WHAT GOD WANTS
With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:6-8 NIV)
All, some background: Micah was a prophet in the Old Testament and his book is one of the twelve Minor Prophets. The Book of Micah contains messages of judgment and hope, particularly directed towards the people of Israel during the 8th century BC. Micah spoke against the injustices and idolatry that were prevalent during his time, and he called for repentance and a return to a proper relationship with God.
In Micah 6:6-8, the prophet is addressing a question about what kind of offerings or sacrifices might be pleasing to God. It’s a response to the people who were thinking that they could please God just by offering sacrifices and performing rituals, without genuinely caring about righteousness or justice.
Lord Jesus, as I meditate on this Scripture, it says to me that you want me to:
ACT JUSTLY: This means to be fair and equitable in my dealings with others. It’s not just about following the law, but also about ensuring that my actions and decisions are based on righteousness and moral integrity, led by you, Father God.
Lord, how does this apply to me?
Child, here are three things for you:
1. You are starting many construction projects in your home again, and I want you to go above and beyond simple fairness as you deal with your contractors.
2. Also, how you pay your staff. Be generous, and pay more than what is owed. I have been generous with you. You be generous with them.
3. With your loan; increase your payments to them.
LOVE MERCY: Loving mercy implies that one should be compassionate and forgiving towards others. Instead of harboring resentment or seeking revenge, God’s people are called to show kindness and compassion, even when they might feel wronged.
Lord, please give me some actions here as well.
Child, here are three:
1. Avoid harboring any resentments for those that take advantage of you.
2. When you feel disrespected, suffer in silence; come to me instead of others.
3. Demonstrate greater compassion for the poor; find ways of serving them physically.
WALK HUMBLY: Walking humbly with God signifies living a life of modesty and humility, recognizing one’s own limitations and the greatness of God. It’s about having a relationship with God in which one is not prideful or arrogant, but instead is submissive to God’s will and guidance.
Lord, can you give me three actions here as well?
Dear child, I don’t want to overwhelm you with actions. Humility is more of a state of mind.
1. Get feedback from your wife; she has a good sense of when you are humble, and when you are not.
2. Be deferential to all; consider others better than yourself.
3. Be a servant to others; find ways to wash others’ feet.
You have a list of “my” actions. You may want to make your “own” list, for yourself.
I am sorry that this is so personal, but I sit daily with Christ to learn and grow, and not to entertain or teach you, my reader. What I do not want to do is hold myself out to be a Bible teacher. I am not. Nor some super-Christian. I am not. Nor someone who has consistently attained acting justly, loving mercy and/or walking humbly with God. No. Certainly not. Ask my wife! She sees the “real Daniel” “behind the scenes”, what Pastor Jimmy Dodd calls the “backstage.” Consistency is my nemesis. I can do three of these things that Micah calls out, some of the time, and more than ever now, “most” of the time. But then I “slip up” and the “old Daniel” comes out. I don’t like that guy and wish he would just go away for good. Why does he come back, showing up?
In Alcoholics Annonymous, we call these sins Character Defects. As a Christ-follower, we call these habitual sins. I pray for them to be removed, once and forever, never to appear on my doorstep again. And again, they show up, unwelcome, unannounced, and decrease my witness of what Christ is doing inside of me.
Micah 6:6-8 emphasizes the importance of moral and ethical behavior and a humble relationship with God, as opposed to mere ritualistic practices. It’s a call to internalize the values of justice, mercy, and humility in one’s life, and to live out these values in a meaningful relationship with God. This is presented as the true and pleasing way to worship and serve God, rather than simply going through the motions of religious rituals without a genuine heart for what is good and just. And, I think consistency of behavior is key. It requires my full surrender, moment by moment. And sometimes, we just give up, and take back the ground we have yielded to Christ.
Surrender is a funny thing in that it is not permanent. It is totally voluntary. God gave us free will. Every day requires me to “re-surrender.” Every day I wake up to the “old Daniel” who has to once again be reminded “who” I am, and “whose” I am. I am a child of God. That is the “who I am.” I belong to Christ. That is “whose I am.” I was bought with an ultimate price: Christ’s totally unjust death, paying the penalty for my sins. If I only could remember that every hour of every day. But no, my “forgetter” works overtime, to help me forget this, and then the “old Daniel” shows up. Ugh. The Apostle Paul’s words come to mind:
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.
17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:15-20 NIV)
Paul is expressing the inner conflict that he experienced as a human being who desires to live according to God’s laws, but finds himself falling short due to the sinful nature inherent in humanity. Do you struggle with habitual sins too? This passage illustrates the struggle that we all face in trying to live a life that is in accordance with our faith in Christ and the teachings of the Bible. It emphasizes the tension between our spiritual aspirations, our human weaknesses, and the need for grace and redemption through Jesus Christ. Let us not ever become weary of this inner conflict. It will be there, to a certain degree, until we enter Heaven. But hopefully, we become more and more consistent, as we mature as Christ-followers, and our habitual sins are either taken away, or become so infrequent that they only occur in our minds, and we never act them out on the back stage of our behavior.
Dear Father, thank you for the “way out” you have given us from our “old man” condition: Your son, Jesus Christ. In him, we have grace and redemption. That truly saves us from ourselves. Thank you so much. We love you. Amen.
Your aspiring (“old man” at times) servant,
6 July 2023
POSTSCRIPT: Dear friends, if this daily, transparent conversation with God blesses you, please go to www.SOLIDpastors.org, where you will find these posted, and a repository of all, in English and Spanish. If you ever want to chat, you can reach me at Daniel@SOLIDpastors.org. May Christ bless you richly as you have your own intimate, daily Conversations with Christ.