Monday, May 18, 2015

What God desires most

Micah 6:6-8
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[a] with your God.

  It could be argued that much of the life of a believer is about faith and about trying to live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.  This hasn't changed much down through the ages.
However, the idea of sacrificing caves or rams or rivers of olive oil sounds very foreign to us.  These had to do with sacrifices made in Old Testament times to atone for sins and appease or please God.  But God had grown tired of these endless sacrifices because the people were just doing them out of obligation.  They didn't come from the heart.  People would offer sacrifices and participate in religious activities and then head off to live their selfish lives.  

And so Micah the prophet speaks to the Lord about this and about what God really desired of his people. He asks the question in verse 6  "With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the Exalted God?" In those days it was customary to bring a gift to a lord or king when you, as a commoner, came before a dignitary especially if you're asking their assistance or to worship them.

But it is obvious from Micah's answer, God isn't interested in our "things" and in our sacrificial actions.   God is interested in our heart.  Most specifically God is interested in our heart that shows compassion for others; to act Justly and to act with love and mercy.

God calls us to do what's right  We are to do what is right and ethical in our actions towards others.  This can also mean we uphold justice.  When the world is compromising around us, we walk in truth and  justice in all situations.  We do this not as a matter of obedience driven by fear or in order to manipulate God but we act justly as a reflection of our heart and our love for God.   But as a lover of Justice we must also be a lover of mercy.  We are motivated to work for the justice toward the oppressed.  We show mercy, benevolence, kindness and forgiveness to others who may have hurt us or may have suffered because of the world and its injustice and hardships.

In the New Testament James lifts up a similar statement.  James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

God is more concerned about our heart and our compassion than our proper doctoral beliefs, sacrifices and religious adherences.

Lastly Micah says ...."and to walk humbly with your God."   Humility is a position that acknowledges that God is greater than we are and as we walk with God in humility we develop his traits and his desires.  We start displaying the family likeness.

To Ponder:  In what ways am I walking justly and above reproach in my actions towards other.  In what ways do I struggle?  In what ways do I promote Justice and mercy towards others?  In what ways do I ministers to the orphans and widows or our world?

Prayer:  Dear God give us hearts to love you a will to follow you in truth and mercy, and hands to serve others with mercy.  Amen

O Lord before I give you my hands and my feet help me to give you my heart.