God’s Challenge

By Antony Stanley from Gloucester, UK

It is easy sometimes to focus on the difficulties of live, to think how badly done to we are, without remembering the positives in our life – or the place we could be in.

Micah 6:1-8 (CEV)

The Lord’s Challenge to His People

The Lord said to his people:

Come and present your case
    to the hills and mountains.
Israel, I am bringing charges
    against you—
I call upon the mountains
and the earth’s firm foundation
    to be my witnesses.

My people, have I wronged you
in any way at all?
    Please tell me.
I rescued you from Egypt,
    where you were slaves.
I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam
    to be your leaders.
Don’t forget the evil plans
    of King Balak of Moab
or what Balaam son of Beor
    said to him.
Remember how I, the Lord,
    saved you many times
on your way from Acacia
    to Gilgal.

God has done nothing but good for his people, he implores them to remember.  He has not been a burden to them, as they might imagine, far from it.  They have been saved from slavery, rescued from the evil plans of kings, God has saved them over and over again.  He has rescued them, and yet they seem to have forgotten.

How easily do we forget what God has done for us?  God, and his ways, are not a burden to us; he hasn’t wronged us, but rather saved us from some of the places we could have been, from plans that could harm us, from places we felt trapped in.

True Obedience

What offering should I bring
when I bow down to worship
    the Lord God Most High?
Should I try to please him
by sacrificing
    calves a year old?
Will thousands of sheep
or rivers of olive oil
    make God satisfied with me?
Should I sacrifice to the Lord
my first-born child
as payment
    for my terrible sins?
The Lord God has told us
what is right
    and what he demands:
“See that justice is done,
let mercy be your first concern,
    and humbly obey your God.”

And so the question turns to a suitable offering to such a God.  A sacrifice – the finest calves, countless sheep, the best olive oil, even the first-born?  What could be given to God that could possibly pay for all the wrong we have done?

But no, God isn’t interested in any of that.  What God wants from his people is justice, mercy and for his people to walk humble with him.

Justice – a concern for equity amongst all people.  No one has any more, or less, rights than any other; no one has any right to anything over any other; everyone should be given equal treatment and a fair chance.

Mercy – showing love, compassion, forgiveness, the opportunity of a second chance – the very elements we see in God himself

Humble – not being full of our own self-importance, or feeling the need to shout about ourselves; having a proper perspective of self.  In terms of God, being aware of where and how we stand before him.

These are the things God is looking for.  Not flashy gifts that everyone can see us giving; not great shows of piety; not trying to look good whilst doing what we like.  Our offering to God should show in how we treat our fellow human being.  Do we treat them as God would?  To do so is an acceptable offering to God; to not do so is to fail in the very thing, the only thing, God requires of us.

This passage should be the foundation of everything, personal lives, community living and national laws.  Justice, mercy and humility should be the underpinning of everything anyone does.  A tall order, but a great aspiration – the challenge that God makes to us all.

Forgive me Lord,
for the times
when I have confused
big,
expensive,
or good-looking
for
important,
or what you want,
and need.
Forgive me
when I have failed to see
the actual paucity
of a gift I thought was extravagant.
Forgive me
when I have offered things,
instead of myself
and how I live.

Lord,
teach me to live
with justice,
in mercy,
with humility,
that I may be living
in the way
that pleases you,
the way you need.

Love Mercy, Live Justly

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