[The Lord] has shown you, O mortal, 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.
I have a problem being a Christian.
That is, I have a problem living up to the standard that is present within the pages of the Bible. To clarify further, it is not that I am morally or philosophically opposed to the requisites in Scripture, it’s just that I cannot live up to them.
The above quote is from Micah 6:8, a favourite among evangelicals. However, many in evangelical circles take out of contexts what these words are addressing. God is reprimanding His people Israel for relying on external acts of worship to bring themselves in a right position with Him, instead of bringing a genuine heart of love before God. God has basically pointed out that the people have been loving themselves and not truly loving Him.
I remember again the nearness of this ancient text:
I have a problem loving God, but I’m pretty good at loving myself (as far as looking to serve only myself).
My routine has been presenting myself as an educated Bible student with a background in theological training. In faint likeness to the Pharisees of the New Testament, it is easy for me to appear pious by sharing an interpretation on a biblical teaching. Even if an opportunity like this doesn’t arise, it would be less effort to share my educational achievement as having acquired a Bachelor of Theology. (I understand that in the larger academic sphere, an undergraduate degree is no large feat at all, considering the depth of biblical training that is ahead of me, if I choose it.) However, the sheer fact that I struggle with pride regarding my education is concerning enough. The LORD Jesus would have a field day with me for how pretentious I can be.
That’s just one example. I doubt there’s room enough in this post to cover everything that makes me the opposite of the calling of Christ in my life.
Going back to the above passage.
The Lord requires of me to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him. I doubt I could do the first two in the list without making a practice of the third.
What does it mean to walk humbly with God? Recently, in a brief moment of prayer I believe some understanding of this came to me–recognising how reliant on God I truly am. I cannot bring myself righteousness apart from God. My above example I hope paints some bit of that picture. I can know all things in Scripture and still not have the Spirit of God living in me. The words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 sheds some light on what I mean here, if you will allow me to amend this chapter’s opening statement, “If I can speak intelligently concerning God’s Word, but have not love, I am just a resounding gong or clanging cymbal.” After all, Scripture teaches that without the Spirit of God, one cannot truly love (1 John 4:7).
So, in short I must come under God’s righteousness. If life has taught me anything, it is that I have no righteousness of my own. God’s my only option. God is my only hope. Yet, I fall short of even this quite often as I take my eyes off of God and place them back on myself.
I end up puffing myself up, and in the wake of my self-indulging I hurt those around me-those I care for and those I am closest to. It really is a fruitless act in every sense of the word.
To walk humbly with God begs me to get over myself.
To walk humbly with God begs me to admit how wretched I am.
To walk humbly with God begs me to view myself in light of God’s mercy.
It was God’s initiative to bring me salvation in the first place. I didn’t bargain for it. I never chose it. God chose it for me, and for you. I wouldn’t have chosen it because naturally I believe there is nothing for me to be saved from.
I must believe that there is more beyond my selfish lifestyle, because life on the other end of my selfishness has proven in too much pain for me. I don’t like burning bridges with people, and I imagine it’s no fun for the others involved either.
I cannot love those around me well enough to maintain harmony. I am not good enough for that. With my lack of love, I cannot show enough compassion towards those that need it, nor can I show acceptance, understanding, nor forgiveness. I am habitually drawn to promote myself. Yet, the Lord requires me to accept my lowness in view of His highness. God through Christ is good enough for all these things. I just must commit myself to life in Him.
It is my struggle to live up to the requirement of Christ. Thankfully the requirement of Christ is also manifested within the person of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit that lives within me.
So it is my requirement also, moving forward, to do what the author of Hebrews commands all believers to do: to fix our eyes on Jesus “the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” He is the object of our faith, as well as the subject. I must continue to strive toward His righteousness, while accepting the truth that this righteousness overflows through me to the world.