Text: Micah 6:6-8
Summary: 1) To act justly within your sphere of influence with the help of the Holy Spirit. 2) To love expressing steadfast love to God our Father. 3) To be made humble so that you can walk with Jesus all the days of your life.
6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Thank you, Lord, for giving us very clear instructions on what you require of us in 2020. And for that matter, for any day, any year of all generations, you require these three things. So Lord, we just ask that you would give us more revelation and understanding, so that we can live in 2020, and for the rest of our days, according to your clear instructions and requirements. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
He has told you, O man, what is good and what does the Lord God require of you. And I want to restate the three requirements and slightly change the phrasing based on what I see in Scripture and my understanding of these three things. At first, I should ask why three things? Is it accidental that it is three things? I think it’s very intentional. Why three things and not two things or four things, but three things? It reflects the trinity.
The first is to act justly within the sphere of your influence with the help of the Holy Spirit. That’s number one. Number two is to love, I think it’s not mercy although that is one of the definitions, it is to love to express steadfast love to God our Father. And three, to walk humbly can be rephrased a little better, to be made humble so that you can walk with Jesus, the Son of God, all the days of your life.
To act justly within the sphere of your influence with the help of the Holy Spirit, to love expressing steadfast love to God our Father, and thirdly, to be made humble so that you can walk with Jesus, the Son, all the days of your life.
People love quoting Micah 6:8. And the popular translation, I think is quoted most often. To act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly. And two of the three sound like it’s a social gospel. Sounds like mercy ministry. That I am going to dedicate my life to promoting justice in the world. And I am going to act justly and demand justice in society. And I am going to be involved in mercy ministry to the poor, to the oppressed, to the marginalized, and that’s going to be what God requires of me, because two of the three doesn’t it say in God’s word, Micah 6:8, is to act justly and to love mercy?
And it would be wonderful if Amos 5:24 could come to pass in our lifetime, that justice can roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream, as MLK quoted in one of his speeches. But to act justly, you have to see it for what it is. It is God’s requirement for the believer, it says that we are to act justly. We cannot demand justice from a non-believing world. That’s as ridiculous as the Israelites in Babylon, demanding that Babylon treats them with justice in the Old Testament. That’s as ridiculous as the Christians in the first century demanding that the Roman Emperor treat them justly.
It doesn’t say demand justice in society, or the world. It says God requires of you, the believer, the child of God, the people of God, to act justly to one another and to show what acting justly looks like to the rest of the nations in the world. That’s what it says to act justly. In our current climate, there is a lot of finger-pointing. A lot of blaming that other people are not acting justly. That the governors, the President, the police, the university, the state authorities, anybody in power, they have not been acting justly. And so all this fingerprinting is happening.
But God is saying, what about you, do you act justly? Isn’t that what He’s saying? He’s saying, what does God require of the believer, because the believer has the Holy Spirit, the believer has a regenerate heart, we have the ability to act justly. Somebody who does not know God, and has a heart that is still dead, they’re still a slave to their sins, they still have racism, they still oppress in their heart or maybe even physically in their workplace, because they are a boss. Can we expect that these people who do not know God can act justly?
It is impossible. We’re asking for something impossible to happen and we’re getting angry that it is not happening. God is asking us, the believer, to act justly within your own sphere of influence with the help of the Holy Spirit. That means for a husband, as unsanctified as we are to lead a wife who is also unsanctified, and we do this justly. We’re not demanding submission. We’re not getting angry. We’re not being harsh, but we are acting justly as husbands toward our wives. And when God sees that, He is pleased. You’re satisfying His requirement as a husband. It’s the same thing for a wife who is unsanctified, who is being led by an unsanctified husband, and when you submit to His leadership, that is pleasing to the Lord. You’re acting justly. This is what we’re talking about the sphere of your influence.
This is a parent parenting their children with justice, meaning there’s no favoritism. Just imagine this is like what we see in society. Imagine you’re now bringing it to the home, and let’s say you favor one child over another. It’s like I’m favoring the white over the black, God wants us to bring it down to our home. Do you practice favoritism, do you treat one child with extra harshness and another child with a lot of grace, that is unjust. God sees the injustice in the parent.
God charges the fathers in partnership with a mother to raise up the children in the instruction and discipline of the Lord, and in particular, the fathers are charged. To do this without exasperating, and that’s a fine line, because the Father has to establish some authority in the home. It is not a democracy in the home, there is an authority structure that God has ordained. And so there are limits that as godly parents we put limits. It’s not like you can just do whatever you want, whenever you want. If you’re a godly parent, you see the deception in the world, you see what Satan is doing and the darkness that’s coming in through all the media and entertainment. And so as a father, you’ve tried to guard the children and you put limits on things.
And you do this with grace, with truth, without exasperating. The same with the children. Although the parents are not perfect, parents are still in the process of being sanctified, children are commanded by God to honor their parents. And that even Jesus did. If you think about it, He submitted himself and he honored sinful parents, Joseph and Mary. Jesus wouldn’t ask children to do that to sinful imperfect parents unless He did it himself and we clearly know that Jesus honored Joseph and Mary.
So in your own sphere of influence, do you act justly? As your parents get older, do you act like the Pharisees who say, Oh, this money is corban, it’s dedicated to God and I don’t have to share my money to my ailing parents who are in need? That is worse than an unbeliever, it’ says in Scripture. You’re supposed to act justly, seeing your elderly parents and caring for them financially, sacrificing for them because they sacrificed for you.
So God wants us to act justly in our sphere of influence. That’s also in our workplaces. That’s also in our schools. Do you carry yourself as somebody, as a student with proper respect for professors and teachers, do you submit under the authority when you’re in their classroom? Do you show proper respect as an employee? Do you show proper respect as a child to the parent? Do you show proper respect, or are you acting one way but behind their back you’re resentful and you’re angry, and you say, I just can’t wait to get out of this home?
To act justly is something that requires the help of the Holy Spirit. You go through your day and you look back at the end of the day, and you ask the Lord, was there any injustice, did I commit any injustice? And God at the end of the day will show you. That word, that tone, that action was inappropriate. You exasperated your children. You were harsh with your wife. These are things that with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are being trained to be people who can act justly. No matter where you place us, we can be in the worst company with the worst boss, and in a country with absolute injustice. And we’re not going to be angry. We’re not going to be trying to start a revolution. We are people who’ve been trained, because we’ve been trained in our home first and foremost to act justly.
There is a lot of news about Christians who are speaking out about social justice issues. And there there is an alumni of a Christian university that petitioned the president of that university saying, the words that the president spoke after the George Floyd incident was not right. And they demanded an apology. And if you listen to what the president actually said after the George Floyd incident, there was nothing he said that warranted an apology. He just didn’t say it the way that certain people wanted him to say it.
And my question to the president before he apologized is, did he ask the Lord whether he should apologize? Or did he just do it because of the pressure of man? There is so much pressure in our society to say it just right, and you’re like on eggshells, tippy-toeing, because you see that the wrong word with a slightly wrong tone and not expressing it the way that certain people want you to express it, there is going to be a petition in your inbox that is going to demand an apology.
And I want to say to the president, did you ask the Lord? Did God compel you to apologize? And then I would say, in your own heart, is there anything that warrants an apology? Is there racism, is there oppression in your heart? And then I’d branch out a little further, in your Christian School, is there racial division? Is there oppression? Or is there justice, because that’s his sphere of influence. He doesn’t have to speak to society per se, and say it the way society that’s not Christian wants him to say it. He would say, in his own heart, is there injustice, is there racism, is their sin? And then in the school, is there racism, sin, injustice?
Those things God will hold a president of a Christian school accountable. Because it’s a Christian school, He will hold that president responsible if he didn’t. If he put regulations in place that promoted division or an inequality, or some sort of oppression, or marginalization as a president of a Christian school. That is his realm of influence.
And another large Protestant denomination president came on record saying, I do not endorse the organization Black Lives Matter. But I do say Black Lives Matter. And I want to ask that president, were you compelled by the Lord to issue a formal apology on behalf of the convention, and tens of thousands of churches in your denomination or did you just do it because of public pressure? I would say to the president of that denomination, look at your own history. Has there been injustice in your history? How can you fix the injustice in your denominational structure? Is there a diversity among your leadership? Is it reflective of the churches? That is where a president of the denomination should focus his energy, instead of being trendy. And I would ask him again did God compel you to issue an apology, or did you do it because it would make you look good and it will make your denomination look good to the world that is practicing injustice?
We are to act justly, and God will hold us responsible only in our sphere of influence and only among Christian believers who are on the same page of what justice looks like. Because without God who establishes His laws, your definition of justice and somebody else’s definition of justice can be totally different. Because who is dictating what the regulations, restrictions, and laws are unless you come under and you submit under one and the same God?
We are to act justly and that includes mercy. That includes mercy. And that’s why I think the next one is not loving mercy because if you act justly, it includes mercy. God is just toward us. He punishes us. He disciplines us. He is also so patient, so merciful, so gracious. He shows us mercy, so when there is justice, there’s also mercy. And so in the body of Christ, we hold each other to a higher standard than the world for sure.
But there are also weaker brothers and sisters among us. And so do we say to the weaker brother and sister, what’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you more mature? Why aren’t you more sacrificial? Do we say that to somebody who is just a Christian for one year, do we put them in leadership, and then put all this pressure on them as a baby Christian and say, what’s wrong with you? No, we look at people where they are in their spiritual journey.
Some people need an exhortation, need some discipline, need a little push because they’re stronger in their faith. Others just need mercy, and God who just regulates and adjusts depending on who you speak to. You speak to your little one year old different than you do to a 17-year-old. God adjusts depending on who He is speaking to. And so we are to act justly within your sphere of influence. And that’s with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, we are to love, not love mercy as if this is a mercy ministry verse, but we are to love expressing steadfast love toward God. If you look at verses like Hosea 6:6, it says, for I desire steadfast love, and not sacrifice. The knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6 and Micah 6 sound very similar. Does God desire sacrifices? Does God want all of our labor? Is that what He’s after, the work of our hands? Does He want us to go to the ends of the earth and preach the gospel and be so exhausted? At the end of our life, we’ve planted so many churches and led so many people to Christ. Is that primarily what He’s after, our labor, and our sacrifice?
Did you know that you can do all of that and not love Him? Did you know you can do all of that sacrifice for your own selfish ambition? Did you know you can do all of that ministry and missions and planting churches, you can do all of that for vanity, because you want to be great in the eyes of man? Do you know you can do all of that without love toward God? Hosea 6:6 clarifies this. He likens steadfast love with knowledge of God. See, God is interested in a relationship. He’s interested in a steadfast relationship.
He doesn’t want a relationship with one of His children, where God blesses you and you give Him thanks. And God disciplines you, and you stomp off in a tantrum. He doesn’t want that kind of a relationship that in 2020, when it’s been such a difficult and an odd year, that we’re grumbling in our heart. Whereas 2019, we were, for the most part, grateful. He doesn’t want that kind of up and down, roller coaster faith. He wants steadfast love.
I always make it a point to start my prayer with Father. I always start with Abba because it just reminds me I’m a child of God. It reminds me when I say, Abba, that there there’s a closeness that I desire. He is not a God who is distant and far away. He is Abba, who is close. And I start with that because it sharpens my identity. Before I’m a pastor, before I’m a worker, before I’m a husband, before I’m a son to my earthly parents, I am a child of God.
And God wants the kind of relationship that He doesn’t have to hold His breath, thinking, if I do this to my child, is he going to be upset? Is he going to storm off? Is he going to grumble? Does he understand that I’ve been so good to him? Does he understand the big picture that I want him to reach final salvation? Does he understand I’m trying to make every child of God look like Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
So with my boys, I try to give them certain assignments, and these are easy assignments. When I’m seeing their response, do they grumble? Do they do it with a cheerful heart? This is a small thing that I’m asking of them, do they do it with absolute obedience. Because I know in the future, our Heavenly Father will put them through many more difficult things that I could ever give to them.
And will they complain against their Heavenly Father, who loves them, who sees eternity and sees their future and all the pitfalls on this journey? And He is so wisely taking them step by step. Are they the kind of person who can surrender their self-will, in order to obey the will of God? Because Jesus Christ, He is the most exalted Son of God because He is the most humble Son of God. He surrendered. He died to His self-will. You see this most clearly at Gethsemane. He says, not my will but your will be done. And if you as a child of God start with, Father, what is your will for me today? What is your will? I will do whatever you ask without grumbling and without complaining, I will obey you fully, that is somebody who is demonstrating a steadfast love toward God.
And lastly, I think this is the most significant. To walk humbly. And the grammar I was stuck on in Micah 6:8 for so long and I didn’t know how to preach it. I just wanted to put it away many times and really wrestled with it this week. And the grammar is just so odd. This last phrase, to walk humbly. If I were to break it down, literally it means, to be made humble. And it emphasizes the humility that precedes the walking, that you have to be made humble first, then you can walk.
We all assume we are walking with the Lord. But unless you’re humble and unless you’ve been made humble, and unless you choose to humble yourself on a moment by moment basis, it is impossible to walk with the Lord Jesus.
3 Do two walk together unless they have agreed to meet?
Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet? It sounds so obvious that you cannot walk with a friend, unless you first agreed to meet. It’s like me assuming that Matthew can read my mind and I start walking toward Blaze Pizza in Alhambra. And I get to Blaze Pizza in Alhambra, and I say, Matthew, where are you? And then Matthew says, well you never told me that you want to meet me there, you never agreed to walk together.
How many of us as children of God, we are just storming off in one direction after another. In the beginning, God is so gracious. Remember when you were a little child, you thought you were walking on your own, but actually your father had a firm grasp on you. And you could not walk across the street especially without the strong hand of God our Father walking with us and our earthly parents walking with us.
And as we grow older, God loosens His grip because He wants to see as a teenager, will this child of mine walk in my ways? And He has provided a way for all of us to walk in His ways. He sent His son. And Jesus is our Master. Jesus is our Elder Brother. And we as disciples are followers. And now we have to choose to submit ourselves and to follow Jesus. And we say, Jesus, I want to meet you. Wherever you walk, that’s where I’m going to walk. If you’re not walking, I’m staying. We just move wherever Jesus moves.
And we have to be made humble. For a bulk of my life, and a bulk of my Christian life, I assumed I was walking with Jesus. Looking back, I was so proud. I would charge off in one direction, with all of my plans and all of my energy. And then as an afterthought, I would ask, Jesus, can you bless me? Can you be with me? Can you make things happen, because I have my plans and I moved in this direction?
I got the order wrong because I was not humble. And it says you have to be made humble. One thing that I think God is doing in 2020, is He’s making us humble. Whatever plans that you had, they’re all on hold. Everything’s paused around the world. God is making us humble. And then we have a choice to submit to His training and His discipline. And we can also humble ourselves in partnership with God humbling ourselves.
Or we can complain and kick and scream and grumble and never learn what God our Father wants us to learn. We have to be made humble. It is not automatic. The same way that Moses at age 40, God called him to be a deliverer. He was from day one. When he was floating down the Nile river, God had a purpose for him. It was to be a deliverer. At age 40, when finally a burden came into him as recorded in Acts 7. A burden came in and Moses says, I am a deliverer. Although I grew up in an Egyptian home, I see an Egyptian slave master being cruel to a fellow Hebrew brother, and I’m going to side with my brother. And I’m going to defend him. I’m going to deliver him.
And the Hebrew people had an odd response to Moses. Who made you a judge? You’re not my deliverer, you’re Pharaoh’s kid. You’re not one of us. And Moses was utterly rejected by the people, so the people were not ready. Also, Moses was not ready. He was angry. He was proud. He killed a man and he was not ready to be a deliverer of millions of Hebrew slaves under Pharaoh.
So what does God do? God makes this proud, angry, hard-headed Moses at age 40, he makes him humble through 40 years of parenting and living a quiet life. God will make us humble one way or the other. He could use harsh circumstances to teach us a harsh lesson, through His discipline and judgment.
He could also just say, wait, which for many of us is a very painful lesson. Because I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wait. 40 years is too long. Moses somehow submitted. He was made humble. At age 80, he was different. At age 80, he is called by God, the meekest person on the face of the earth. God made him humble by 40 years of waiting and faithfully acting justly in his own sphere of influence with his family and living a quiet life, developing a steadfast love for His Heavenly Father, learning how to walk in step with the Spirit, putting all of his faith and his trust in the Lord.
And God doesn’t change His methodology. He does the same for all of us. And we can either partner with Him and maybe accelerate the process. Or we can kick and scream. And it’s just going to delay it, and it’s just going to take longer. And our prime example of somebody who demonstrates humility is Jesus Christ.
For 30 years, all that could be said of Jesus was that he makes furniture. He’s a nobody for 30 years, quietly working with his hands, and I have to assume he is not grumbling. He’s exercising steadfast love. He’s showing honor to sinful parents. He is forgiving sinful siblings. He is practicing justice. He is demonstrating for 30 years a steadfast love toward His Heavenly Father. He is cultivating a prayer life, so that when he starts ministering, He knows how to get away from the busyness of ministry to reconnect with His Heavenly Father. He’s so humble that He says, I will not do anything unless I see the Father doing work. He’s so humble that He says, I won’t even speak or teach until first the Father gives me the teaching and the words to teach. Isn’t that an absolute picture of humility?
And you and I need to first learn to be humble. We need to humble ourselves and learn to be humble, so that you and I can walk with Jesus. Right now you might be struggling. It might be frustrating. You might be asking Jesus, where are you? Welcome to the club. My conclusion when it’s difficult to connect to Jesus, and you don’t know where He is, and you don’t know how He’s leading your life, I have to consider, even before I start walking with Jesus, what is the prerequisite. What does the Lord require of me before I start walking with Jesus? All the days in my life, He is trying to see, is Ray humble? Am I humble?
And so that’s my homework. It is to wait on the Lord, to trust in the Lord, to submit to His discipline, to submit to His training. Jesus, I know He will lead my life and He is leading my life, but it may not be as exciting and as visible as I want it to be. That’s okay, I go to the previous phrase, the walking has to be humbly walking. To walk humbly. And before we begin walking, we have to learn how to humble ourselves. To learn humility and to submit ourselves. To be made humble.
God is doing this worldwide to His church. He’s teaching us humility. He’s making us lie down in green pastures. He’s forcing His sheep to stop running off but to sit still before Him. He’s making us humble in 2020 so that when this year ends, hopefully, all of us can say, now I can walk with Jesus more confidently. I can hear Him speaking more clearly. I know where He’s taking me with more conviction, because I’ve been trained in 2020 to be humble.
So act justly within your sphere of influence with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will convict you if you avail yourself to Him of all the ways in which you did not act justly in your sphere. And God loves not your sacrifices, not your labor, not your church work. He loves when you express steadfast love toward Him. Gratitude toward Him as a child of God saying, Father, what is your will? Not my will but your will.
The Father loves that kind of expression of steadfast love even when, as Jesus demonstrated in a moment of, maybe even, you could say a moment of weakness, he says, can this cup pass? He had a will that had to be put down, that had to be crucified. So the Father loves it when you ask Him, Father, what is your will for me today? I put down all my plans, I crucify my own will. I express my steadfast love, whatever you want, Father, I will walk humbly.
Before we walk with Jesus all the days of our lives, we have to be trained in humility. God will make us humble, one way or the other. You can take it the easy way and submit and be trained more quickly. Or you can kick and scream when He’s trying to make you humble, and it’s going to delay the process, and perhaps it will become more painful. And I pray we would not have to endure a painful discipline from the Lord because we submitted to Him earlier.
And these are the three requirements. To act justly, to love steadfast love toward God our Father, and to walk humbly with our Lord Jesus, who is our Master and Lord. Let’s pray.
Father, we come to you as children of God. We don’t have to wonder what your will is. We don’t have to guess what you require of us over the course of our lifetime. It says so clearly in your word, in Micah 6:8. You want us to act justly in our sphere of influence with the help of the Holy Spirit. Forgive us as husbands and as fathers for failing to act justly toward our wives and our children.
Forgive us, as wives for acting unjustly to our husbands and our kids. Forgive the kids for acting unjustly toward their parents. Forgive us for acting unjustly to our coworkers, our bosses, and our employees whom we work with, and perhaps are even under us. You hold us accountable to our own sphere of influence. We pray for justice in that area and that sphere to flow down like waters and for righteousness like an everflowing stream, in our homes, and wherever you place us.
We pray Lord, that we would love expressing steadfast love to you. That it’s not our own will but you’re will be done. We’re not going to complain. We’re not going to be like Jonah and run away when you give us a task. We’re going to submit without complaining. We’re going to obey you absolutely. Not our will, but your will be done. We’re going to do this with gladness and without grumbling because we’re children of God.
We pray that you would be gentle in your discipline toward us and that you make us humble quickly, Lord. We don’t want a day to go by when we are having difficulty walking with Jesus because we’re not humble or because we’re proud and because we have so many plans. We’re just running off and charging in various directions. We don’t want to miss a day of walking closely which is because of our pride.
Forgive us on this day for being proud, for not walking humbly. We choose to humble ourselves each day in each moment. It is our choice, we humble ourselves today. Train us in the way of humility. Make us humble the way you made Moses humble. Help us to be humble the way Jesus displayed absolute humility. No wonder He is exalted above every name, and every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth bows down to the Lord Jesus because He is the most humble person who ever lived.
We also want to be humble so that we can walk with Jesus, who is humble of heart and who is gentle. Lord, teach us humility and train us in the way of humility. And the Holy Spirit will help us and convict us when we are not humble and when we are not just. Thank you for giving us clear instructions on how you want us to be in 2020. Meet us now as we partake in your Lord’s Supper. Thank you for your body that was broken for us. Your blood that was shed. We partake, and it’s our desire to meet you in the partaking. That you would nourish us in a mysterious way in our body, soul, spirit, mind, will, emotion. I pray that you cover us with your blood. Transform us, change us, Lord. Thank you. In Jesus Name, Amen