What Does The Lord Expect of You?
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
This is the first Sunday of the new millennium. I say that, because technically, the new millennium began January 1, 2001. At the beginning of each year, I typically challenge believers to set some spiritual goals to strive for. As I was thinking about this years challenge, the verse that Attorney General appointee John Ashcroft kept coming to mind. Turn with me to Micah 6:8 –
"He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
Let me explain the context. In verses 1-5 God is presenting a case against Israel. They are out of fellowship with the Lord. They have wandered away from the Lord. They have broken His laws that they agreed to keep. Micah the prophet acts as an attorney and presents God’s case against Israel. He contends that Israel has no just cause for straying away from God. Why? It is because; God rescued them from Egypt, and redeemed them from slavery, in addition to protecting them from Moab and hindering Balaam from cursing them. In short, Israel had no just cause in breaking their covenant with God! But, one thing is perfectly clear. Israel is out of fellowship with God.
At this point, Micah poses the obvious question. Since Israel has broken their fellowship with God, how can that fellowship be restored? In verse 6, Micah shares some ways that are not acceptable! Israel had been involved in idolatry. A common sacrifice to Baal was a 1-year-old calf. God will not accept pagan sacrifices. If the offering of one calf would not suffice, how about a thousand rams and rivers of expensive oil? The answer is NO!
Then, Micah addresses the most hideous of Israel’s pagan involvement…human sacrifice. The people of Israel were sometimes guilty of this horrid, unnatural, and abominable sin, in the height of their degeneracy and apostasy. They sacrificed their children to Moloch (Psalm 106:38) when God had clearly told them not to in Leviticus 18:21.
The point of this whole verse is that you cannot worship the Lord God almighty in the same way you worship pagan gods & goddesses. You cannot live for the world and live for God at the same time. Neither ornate outward rituals, grandiose sacrifices nor extravagant offerings are the means of restoring fellowship with God. So, the pressing question is, how can fellowship with God be restored?
If you will have fellowship with God, verse 8 indicates what God expects of you. The verse reads, "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee…"
The phrase "do justly" in verse 8 means to follow the Word of God or live Biblically. There are many Christians who mistakenly presume that they are living in fellowship with God because they publicly profess to be Christians, they go to church on Sunday, they throw a $20 in the offering plate and perhaps the even serve some place in the church. But these things are NOT the determining factors in fellowship with God. Turn to 1 Samuel 15:22 "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." Jesus stated it clearly enough: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15
Do justly. Obey the Word of God. The Apostle John states it so fittingly, "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." 1 John 1:6-7
According to this passage the second thing that God expects of those who will live in fellowship with Him is that they take pleasure in being merciful.
The place to begin is by defining the word. Mercy is that benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart, which makes it possible for a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves. Mercy is the disposition that tempers justice, and encourages an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders.
Mercy is a primary characteristic of God! Turn to the next chapter of Micah, Micah 7:18 "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy."
Someone has noted that the mercy of God is God not giving us what we deserve. I believe that is an appropriate statement in light of Lamentations 3:22 "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. The Psalmist noted God’s mercy when he wrote, "If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?" Psalms 130:3
While God is just, He delighteth in mercy. It is because of His mercy that any of us are alive (see Ephesians 2:4-10).
Because God delights in mercy, He expects His children to delight in mercy as well. The Apostle Luke wrote, "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." Luke 6:36
Proverbs 3:3 "Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:"
Proverbs 11:17 "The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh."
Those who walk with God will be merciful!
There is one final thing mentioned in Micah 6:8 that God expects of those who will walk in fellowship with Him. It is…
Walking in pride is the opposite of walking humbly. Pride makes
us independent of God. God hates pride! It is #1 in the list of the things that God hates (Proverbs
6:16-19). We know that God resisteth the proud (James 4:6; 1 Peter
Greek word translated resisteth is a military term that means to line up in rows to
attack an enemy. Need I tell you that pride puts you in a precarious position? It
invites an onslaught by God. Humility, on the other hand, makes us dependant on God and invites
his grace. When you walk humbly with God, you acknowledge His sovereignty in your life.
He is your Creator and your Benefactor. Therefore, you will seek His will and yield to His will
in your life, because God’s ways are higher than our ways.