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Suppose there was a “God’s Best Seal of Approval” that could be awarded to a select group of worthy recipients. Who would qualify?
— Surely the people who donate millions so that religious building could be built in God’s honor would qualify.
— What about those who make great sacrifices? Like a modern day Mother Teresa or Albert Schweitzer, they must receive God’s stamp of approval.
— I once was in a meeting where a man received an award for attending Catholic mass every single day for 20 years without ever missing. He inspired me. Shouldn’t that inspire God, too?
The prophet Micah asked about God’s approval during the last third of the eighth century B.C. He posed three hypothetical questions that reflected the general views of the people.
“With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6.6-7)
Let’s face it. Extravagant giving and sacrifice gets our attention.
The ministry is dependent on generous givers. We can’t deny the value of financial support.
Pagan religions during the time of Micah did engage in child sacrifice. God absolutely forbade child sacrifice.
Suppose we eliminate child sacrifice from consideration and substitute big acts of sacrificial effort? Do sacrificial acts qualify for God’s seal of approval? I suggest that the best answer is, “It depends.”
There have been times when I have sacrificed my personal comfort and energy “kicking and screaming” all the way. I don’t think I heard the applause of heaven over my “great” feat of devotion.
What Gets God’s Approval
Micah didn’t leave his audience guessing. He told them exactly what God requires.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6.8)
Let’s look at the three ways of life that God requires.
(1) Do Justice
God’s command in Deuteronomy is this: “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 16.20).
How are people expected to pursue justice? How are we to live out straightness, honesty, and the path of truth?
Isaiah pictured the Messiah (Jesus) and his execution of justice when he said,
But with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. (Isaiah 11.4)
Justice and equity for the vulnerable of the earth were embodied in the life of our Savior. To do justice is to follow his example.
God’s standard of justice is summarized by the command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19.18, see also Matthew 22.36-40).
(2) Love Kindness
The Hebrew word, chesed, is the most cherished Biblical virtue. It is found 400 times in the Old Testament.
When we practice kindness, we exhibit one of God’s most central attributes.
When God revealed himself to Moses, he proclaimed his essential nature.
“The Lord, the Lord,
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love (chesed, kindness) and faithfulness.” (Exodus 34.6)
Paul taught that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness” (Galatians 5.22).
If we have the Spirit of God active in us, we will display God’s character of justice and kindness.
Justice and kindness may involve using our money or making sacrifices for others, but the heart of kindness is a cooperation with God to practically assist people whom he has made.
(3) Walk Humbly
Micah 4 and Isaiah 2 both describe a time when Mount Zion is established and peace rules the earth. Both passages describe the situation with these words.
Peoples shall stream to it,
and many nations shall come and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Micah 4.2; Isaiah 2.3)
God’s teaching is for our walking. Following the prophecy of God’s coming peaceful kingdom, Isaiah challenged the people.
O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord! (Isaiah 2.5)
God offers us guidance and direction. To “walk humbly with the Lord” is to believe that God knows better how to live life than we do.
We drop our pride and self-sufficiency to accept God’s guidance and follow his direction in the belief that God loves us and knows what is best for us.
What does God want?
God wants what is best for us. He knows that our world will be a better place if people show justice and love their neighbor as they love themselves.
God’s very nature is gracious and kind. He want people to experience the joy of living like he does.
If we are willing, we can be guided by the Wisest and Most Loving Being of All. If we will give up our pride and self-sufficiency, we can walk in the light of his directions for life.
About This Blog
Tomorrow’s blog article will return to 1 Corinthians for a study of chapter 8.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.