Focus: Micah 6:6-8, “6 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? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has showed you, O man, 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.”
Yesterday, I wrote about a woman I met when I was flying home from San Antonio. This woman was rejecting the Church because she witnessed the hypocrisy of her “Christian” mother who ruined several marriages through adulterous affairs. Yet her mother was one who faithfully attended church three days a week, tithed, read her bible, and was baptized. This woman, like so many, equated religious deeds with pleasing God. But that is not what God wants from her or anyone else.
In Micah 6, the people of God are in God’s courtroom. They were a nation filled with religious activity, yet God was bringing charges against his people. Dishonest individuals who demonstrated no concern for treating others fairly ruled the Israelites, and they took advantage of and neglected the poor. They also prostituted themselves to idols by having sexual intercourse with temple prostitutes who were trying to give the fertility god Baal an orgy. Israel tolerated wicked sinful behavior. Israel was in serious breach of Covenant with God. But they were really good at doing spiritual things, right? Then why was God so mad at them? After all, they prayed and sacrificed and faithfully performed their religious duties. Shouldn’t that have made up for their shortcomings?
Micah 6:8 shows us what God wanted from his people. He wanted them to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him. God wanted them to be people who have been changed by His grace. Literally, to do justly simply means to do the right thing. God wanted his people to do what is right all throughout life. To love mercy means to demonstrate loyal committed love toward God and his people. The love of Israel should have been God and his people. To walk humbly with God means to have daily communion with God, much like that which Adam and Eve had with God in the Garden before they sinned. God wanted Israel to enjoy the blessings of being in his presence.
Not much has changed today. God will reject those who simply say “I am a Christian” but do not do what is right, have committed loyal love toward God and his people, and share a daily communion with Him. This is a lesson that spiritual activity does not equal transformation. In other words, if our lives are not changed, it does not matter if we go to church 1 day a week or three days a week. It does not matter if we read our Bible, fast, are baptized, or give our tithe. Our outward symbols and actions should be visual reminders of inward realities (See Deuteronomy 10:16). If our lives are truly changed and we are doing the right thing, demonstrating loyal love to God and others, and walking humbly with God, then our religious activities actually take on new meaning. That is what God wants from those who call him Lord.