The mid-term report cards came out recently. No doubt some students were surprised. They may not have thought they understood the teacher's requirements, but their grade indicates they were not measuring up to the standards.
Our text is one of the most famous in all the Old Testament. It states what the Lord requires of His people. Let's look further at the three requirements.
To Do Justly
To Have Mercy
To Walk Humbly with Thy God
I. What does the Lord require of His people? To Do Justice! v 8 b.
The Lord has some requirements for His people. The Hebrew word translated 'require' carries the idea, 'search for' or 'look for;' it is like the requirements for a job and the personnel department looking for these requirements.
The first one mentioned is to do Justice. The people in Micah's time were for the most part doing just the opposite. Notice Micah 2:8, 3:1-3, 6:10-12 and 7:3-4. The people were not dealing justly with one another.
Justice doesn't damage the reputation of another. Many humans love to gossip and throw out innuendos. You can damage the reputation of another person just by stating your opinion as fact. All of us are entitled to our opinions, but we ought to be challenged as to whether there's any justice in what we've said.
Justice doesn't defraud or oppress. It would not demand increases from others that it doesn't give to others. It would not cheat on income tax. It would not expect a percentage raise for itself that it did not desire to give to others. It would not seek to water down the Bible to meet its opinions.
Several weeks ago on Sunday night I told this story. Many of you didn't get to hear it, and since I want to hear myself tell it again, I sill repeat it. A woman in our church invited me to take a bath with her. Now that I have your attention,
I'll finish the story. Viola Moore is 92 years of age and has a keen sense of humor. I went to visit her in the hospital. Since the door was closed the nurse near by said she would check to see if I could go in. She came out and told me that Viola would cover up and I could go in. My first words to her were, "I'll bet this is the first time you've had your bath invaded by the pastor." She said, "Well, I thought about just moving over and inviting you to join me."
Suppose you heard that story after it had been mis-told a few times. Suppose it came out "Did you hear the pastor took a bath with one of the lady church members." Would you call me to ask me about it, or maybe one of the deacons so they could ask me? Although I use myself as the example, it could be anyone. Justice would check it out. What have you heard or seen recently that really needs to be checked out? What have you said or done recently that was not in the realm of Justice? God requires Justice.
He also requires a love for kindness.
II. What does the Lord require of His people? To love kindness! v. 8 c.
This Hebrew word can be translated 'mercy, goodness, kindness or grace.' Most new translations prefer the idea of kindness. However you translate the word, it has the idea of abundant mercy or kindness. It is unusual in its quality, therefore it can be easily be perceived as God-like. Forgiveness and compassion are two expressions of this kindness. It forgives a wrong and has compassion on the person. It would say, "I will forgive and I definitely want to forget." Not-"I'll forgive, but I can't forget."
Kindness seeks ways to mend fellowship. Kindness puts personal wrongs behind it and moves on to love God and people. Kindness seeks ways to help people with legitimate needs.
The Lord requires Justice and Kindness. These people of Micah's day did neither one in the abundance that God would desire. Where are we today? Are we any better off than they? The Lord still requires Justice and Kindness. His Spirit today would give us that quality if we would just yield to the control of the Holy Spirit.
I have heard this story many times and it has always been told as a true happening. It seems a very small boy was sent out on the streets of New York City to sell apples. Some other boys with a real streak of meanness ran around a corner and knocked the boy and his apple cart for a loop. A man came by at that time and helped the boy get up and then picked up his cart and helped set the apples in place. He then bought several of the damaged apples from the boy and gave him a large tip in addition to paying for the apples. As he walked away he was startled to hear the boy call out, "Hey mister, are you Jesus?"
The act of kindness was thought by another to be very Christ-like. We must ask ourselves when was the last time we were thought by someone in need to be Christ-like in our response to their need? The Lord Requires Kindness.
He also requires us to walk humbly with Him.
III. What does the Lord require of His people? To Walk Humbly With Him. v. 8 d.
It is interesting that this phrase comes last. Really the product of a walk with the Lord is Justice and Kindness, so why list the walk last? It is my opinion that if this came first the people would say, "Oh, we walk with the Lord, maybe not as close as we should, but we do walk with Him." The Lord listed Justice and Kindness first. _____knew they were not just or kind..
Today if you ask what makes a good Christian, you would get a variety of answers. Some would say, "Come to church every Sunday morning" while others would say, "come every time the doors are open." Occasionally someone would say, "I'm a Christian, but not a very good one.? If pressured, they would say why they make that statement and usually the reason is, "activity inside the church building." Do you believe it's possible to love the church and really not care that much about Christ?
If going to church makes you a good Christian, then why is there a lack of justice and kindness? A good Christians is one who walks with God in a humble manner. If that statement is correct, how many good Christians do you know? We are not to love temples and church buildings, doctrines or ceremonies, but God, and evidence it by walking with Him.
If you walk with God you might be here every time the doors are open, but whether you're here or anywhere else, you will be known as a Christian in the finest sense of that word. To walk humble with God means, "to submit to the righteousness He require. It means to live and act with a fixed purpose to serve Him.
In Genesis 5:21-23, a man named Enoch is mentioned. It says twice "and Enoch walked with God." In verse 23 it says he walked with God and he was not, for God took him.
Wouldn't it be great to have such a walk with God that we would lose our life in Him so
that even continuing to live would so magnify Him that it would appear our life was completely lost in Him? Do you walk with Him? He requires it so let's renew our zeal to do just that.
Most of you know John Crandall. You also know 3 weeks ago he had a heart attack and the doctor said he didn't have a chance. During the night after John's heart attack, I thought about what I would say at his funeral if he died. The scripture verse "And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you," came to mind. John is a good example of kindness.
God requires Justice
God requires Kindness
and a Humble Walk with Him.
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And Beyond. Amen? Amen!