There is a tremendous amount of conflict today about almost everything, it seems. With any issue we face, there are three or four sides, whether left/right/center or progressive/conservative/moderate. People who have been marginalized want their voices to be heard. Our society is fragmented. Social division hinders our ability to create any positive change. If only we had some rules or guidelines that were universal! Then, all of us could apply them so that we could find peace rather than conflict.
What Kind of World Do We Live in? What Kind of World Do We Want?
Micah lived in a similar climate, full of corruption and division. His ministry took place in the Southern Kingdom under Ahaziah, one of the corrupt kings of Judah, and Hezekiah, who initiated some reforms. But Micah’s prophecy was directed primarily against Israel (the Northern Kingdom). They were enjoying a brief interlude of prosperity before the Assyrians came in to destroy, despoil, and deport, so it makes sense that Micah’s preaching was not well received. The average person didn’t see it coming, but Micah predicted doom and gloom. In the midst of his harsh revelation from God’s spirit he also offered some advice:
“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8, NKJV) In the midst of his lament about the judgment of Israel, Micah provides three simple rules about how to live.
He has prophesied against Israel’s corrupt rulers and priests, and he has listed their transgressions. Israel’s leaders were scheming manipulators bent on oppressing their own people. (Wow, things don’t change much in government over the years, do they?)The priests abandoned true worship and were participating in pagan idolatry. Israel’s culture was corrupt and materialistic (sound familiar?). Because they were enjoying a brief time of financial prosperity, people lived with a false sense of security about their future. Wealth will do that to you…
Three Simple Rules
Micah predicts a time of Messianic restoration, but warns first of Israel’s fall, the deportation of its people, and the devastation of their way of life. How to avoid such a fate? Micah said it was possible, and offered three ways to avoid judgment and live:
1) Do justly. The Bible is full of warnings to those who abuse their power or oppress the downtrodden. Anyone who marginalizes, ignores, or ridicules others for being different must be reading a different Bible than the one I read. God’s character demands fairness, so treat others with love and respect. Our daily news is still filled with examples of injustice, and while it is an easy thing to say, eliminating injustice is a very hard thing for a society to DO. But as the slogan says, just do it.
2) Love mercy. Do you? Do you, really?? This means desiring mercy not just for ourselves, but for everybody else as well. This means not just requesting mercy, but dispensing it. Can you be merciful to those with whom you disagree, to those who are selfish and wrong, to those who don’t deserve it? God can—after all, He’s been merciful to me. He’s been merciful to you.
If God only dispensed mercy to perfect people, none of us would get ANY. What if ALL of us Christians gave mercy the way it has been extended to us? Would the world be a different kind of place if EVERYONE loved mercy? If you love someone or something, you will make it a priority. You will put it ahead of your own interests. Maybe we could all extoll and extend mercy today. Oh yeah, and every day.
The Rule that Rankles Most, Perhaps
3) Walk humbly with your God. Wow, this one actually covers a lot of ground, because I think we are prideful in so many subtle ways that we don’t even realize all of them. I’m so sure of that I’ll say it: right now, sitting there reading this, you have pride issues in your life. Yes, you do! (And so do I) Suffice it to say that we are not naturally humble, and we pretty much operate from a “me-first” point of view.
If you took inventory of things in your life that make you proud, or things that make you satisfied, how many of those things are self-centered? Do you love your stuff? Are you proud of being humble? At family gatherings, do you serve, or help wash the dishes?
Walking humbly with God would require first that we actually WALK with God, spending time with Him daily, moving at His pace, staying connected with Him much like Enoch did. And being humble requires that we remember who God is, and who we are: Who God is. Who you are. Take a moment to think about that, and start the day with three simple things. Be just. Love mercy. Be humble. I think we could agree that if everybody did that today it would change the world; but here’s the real point: if YOU do it, it might just change yours.
Change the World, Three Things at a Time
Three things that God requires of man, three very simple rules
To help the leaders and the priests all keep from being fools:
Do justly. Offer justice every single time you can;
Love mercy. Always be forgiving with your fellow-man.
Walk humbly with your God! O man, His perfect love inspires
Your grateful heart to give him everything that He requires.
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