God’s desires for us are not hard to discern. He wants to bless us with salvation. The incredible gift of his Son is a powerful testimony to this truth. Yet salvation from sin and death is not something he wants to happen in our lives just once.
He wants the whole of our lives to daily reflect his salvation and to share it with others. When we act justly, we pursue mercy in our relationships, and we honor him with our worship from a humble heart then God’s salvation becomes real in our lives and impacts others with his grace. In the language of Jesus, we all now work for God’s kingdom to come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Micah 6:6-8 Authorized (King James) Version
6 Wherewith shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before the high God?
shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves of a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
or 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?
8 He hath shewed 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?
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Certain dates on the calendar need no explanation and demand no commentary. Several of them are anxiously anticipated and are even warmly welcomed. One in particular is December 25. Not much needs to be said about what that date means. Another is January 1. Without saying a word, you thought of gifts given and gifts received, you thought of vast amounts of ham, turkey, pumpkin pie,
None of those dates in December, January, require anything specific of us, but that’s not the case with another date. It needs no elaboration, but it is different because it requires specific action on our part: it is the first day after Christmas and the first day after New Year. Our homes are filled with fresh abundance, our hearts are filled with a fresh anointing of joy, ‘busy hands’ filled with new toys. Our souls are filled to overflowing with happiness for what we have all received.
Sometimes we think that because our lives have been abundantly blessed, our sins have been forgiven, it really doesn’t matter how we live. Wrong! And the prophet Micah, who wrote seven hundred years before Christ, understood that.
God’s Prophet Micah is best known as the one who foretold the coming Messiah would be born in the tiny, seemingly insignificant village of Bethlehem:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. — Micah 5:2
Micah is also known for his very practical “on the day after” teaching in chapter 6. The lesson comes in a combination question/answer verse: the answer is embedded in the very question it asks! “What does the Lord require of you…”
His three-part answer immediately follows:
Do justly… love mercy… and walk humbly with your God. — Micah 6:8
These three actions are not suggestions.
Nor are they mere options.
These behaviors — related to our actions, our affections, and our attitudes — are “required” of each of us.
Micah taught in a culture characterized by idolatry, immorality, and outright rebellion against worship of God. In fact, it was a culture much like the one we are experiencing today in our world. Micah has boldly proclaimed that certain things are “required” of those who follow the path of the Lord. First, we are required to “do justly.” And he was referring to much more than a ruling in a court of law — God requires that we are to live differently than those around us. Specifically, we should be both moral and ethical in our dealings with others.
We should always honor what is right and speak up for those who have no voice.
Justice has become a popular byword among young evangelicals today, but in our biblical text for today, God’s Prophet Micah was emphasizing action over mere talk. It is not enough for God’s people to love justice and to be cheering from the grandstands for those people working for justice. each of us is required to “do justly,” to put justice into practice.
Can you or I, on this day after Christmas 2021, contemplate what a difference it would make in our society today if more of us got ‘stirred’, began to “do justly,” and rushed into the defense of those who are suffering in unjust circumstances and situations. Again, doing justly is a requirement of God and not a suggestion.
God also requires us as Christ-followers to “love mercy,” and the emphasis continues to be on action, not thought. We are not simply to show mercy to others but to passionately “love mercy.” Mercy is best defined as “not getting what we deserve,” whereas grace is “getting what we don’t deserve.” Micah’s instruction here means that we are required to give to people what they don’t always deserve; we are to give them some slack and show them some mercy.
When we observe someone in a difficult situation, though, some of us tend to immediately think, before fact and truth finding, “verdict: Guilty… until proven innocent!” We take the seat of the judge when our “love” for mercy should be compelling us to be Christ’s hand extended to someone in need, whether or not that person deserves it. My wife is one who truly “loves mercy,” and she has always reminded me that our communities and our neighbors, even though we do not know names, need our love, encouragement when they least deserve it.
Twenty-five-hundred years after Micah wrote that God requires mercy from His people, the apostle John wrote this:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. — 1 John 4:7-8
For the one who truly loves God, doing justly and loving mercy are as natural an act as the volume of waters cascading over Niagara Falls.
Lastly, the Lord requires us not only to do justly and to love mercy but also to “walk humbly with your God,” a requirement which clearly addresses our “day after Christmas” attitude. We are not to allow this perpendicular pronoun to raise its head: Pride! The “Big I,” is one of the greatest hindrances to receiving God’s blessing. This was the beginning of Satan’s downfall (literally) when he said, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). In sharp contrast, Apostle Paul’s future admonition says to,
If we have any compassion left inside of us, let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. — Philippians 2:1-3
Again, the overarching emphasis is on the action we take in response to Micah’s instructions. We are to walk humbly before God and others and ‘walk’ refers to how you and I live our “day after Christmas” lives. Enoch “walked with God” (Genesis 5:22), Noah “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9), and Abraham (Genesis 22: 1-19) too, and so has every man and woman who have known God’s favor.
What is required of us? Justice… you must DO it! Mercy… you must LOVE it! Humility… you must WALK it!
And Jesus is our ultimate example. Knowing that divine justice demanded payment for the penalty of mankind’s sin, and even though He Himself never sinned, Jesus went to the Cross to “do justly.” And from the Cross we see how He loved mercy, saying to those who had driven the spikes into His hands,
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do. — Luke 23:34
Did Immanuel come to us from God with total arrogance? Did Rabbi Jesus walk among us, and act and minister to the people, doing each humbly alongside His Father? Recall, even on the evening of His betrayal and arrest — the evening of His greatest need — Jesus was upon His knees and washing His disciples’ feet! (John 13:1-17)
On this “day after Christmas” 2021, Micah 6:6-8 is still not a little superficial suggestion, but a requirement. So, keep your hearts, souls, hands and feet busy: do justly. Strive for something new, keep your heart broken for your neighbors: unconditionally love mercy, keep your head bowed: walk humbly with your God.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us acknowledge God’s mercy and forgiveness towards us, and humbly pray.
Loving Merciful Lord, it is my sincerest desire to walk humbly before You all the days of my life. Thank You for sending the Lord Jesus to live a perfect life so that He would die as the perfect sacrifice – so I could be imputed with His perfect righteousness… enabling, inspiring me, in His power, to act on behalf of my neighbors and walk humbly in service before You, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.