He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
So much is said about God’s “free” gifts. That all we have to do is accept who Jesus is, and we receive mercy, redemption, and all He has to offer. And that’s true…sort of. Faith doesn’t come without requirements and responsibilities. I’m not talking about ways to lose your salvation, but there are most definitely ways to miss out on the relationship and the life God intends for you to have. You can limit the freedom and the fullness of your life.
God doesn’t ask anything of us that He doesn’t provide for us. But we’re pretty stubborn and refuse to listen, respond, and ask for His provision. We sometimes think that once we check off the salvation box, we can pretty much coast as long as we don’t get into the biggies of the Ten Commandments. Or, we take the most important commandments of loving God and loving others, and we whole-heartedly respond, “Well, yes! Of course, I love God and others!” But what we really mean is, “After all, I don’t hate them. I mean, I don’t do a lot with and for them, but I would if I had the opportunity.”
Loving in word only isn’t how God defines love. God’s love is active. In these verses in Micah, people knew what good things God wanted them to do. They knew Scriptures well, such as Psalm 14:1-3: The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one. And Psalm 37:31: The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip.
God isn’t as interested in the offering as in the one who is doing the offering. That’s because people, including their character and behavior, matter more to God. Giving is more important than the gift. So, responsibilities of loving God are emphasized in this verse.
We’re to do justice—according to God’s standards. We’re to love one another with kindness and mercy. And we’re to walk humbly with God, sticking close to Him as a constant companion so that we can be conformed to His image and in His will.
The requirements of God’s love are not intended as a legalistic checklist. Christians are good at checklists. We have the don’t lists (don’t watch certain movies, read certain books, cheat on tests, lie to parents, have sex before marriage, and the list could go on and on), and we have do lists (read Bible every day, go to church every Sunday, wear modest clothes, pray for people, tithe, and so on). These lists aren’t bad in and of themselves, but they’re unnecessary. God says we’re to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with Him. He says we’re to love Him and others. Nothing that He directs us to do contradicts itself. He is always consistent in character and instruction.
If we seek to know God and His will, those lists of do’s and don’ts are taken care of. They flow out of a full, intimate relationship with Him. If we start with them, we can lose sight of our relationship with God, and our obedience is a shell of faith. I don’t know about you, but I prefer full faith to an empty shell.
Dear God, I don’t want to get stuck in legalism. I don’t want it to be the driving force behind my faith. I want to love You with everything that I am, who You created me to be. Please challenge and equip me to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with You. I am Yours.