Hunkered Down Devotion

Micah 6:6-8 (Voice)
6 Israel: What should I bring into the presence of the Eternal One to pay homage to the God Most High?  Should I come into His presence with burnt offerings, with year-old calves to sacrifice?  7Would the Eternal be pleased by thousands of sacrificial rams, by ten thousand swollen rivers of sweet olive oil?
Should I offer my oldest son for my wrongdoing, the child of my body to cover the sins of my life?  
8 No. He has told you, mortals, what is good in His sight.  What else does the Eternal ask of you But to live justly and to love kindness and to walk with your True God in all humility?

This passage from the book of the prophet Micah provides us an answer to a question all of us should be asking: What does God want from us?   It is a question we should be asking, but there are lots of reasons why we might be hesitant to do so.  Will we be able to live up God’s expectation?  Will we want to live up to God’s expectation?  

This is a question that individuals and communities have been asking and trying to answer for themselves since the beginning of time.  The whole idea of a sacrifice to God or the gods is centered around trying to give the chosen God what they want.  This is true in past religious practice, in mythology, and it is also true in our current church context.

In our twenty-first century churches we don’t usually talk about making sacrifices to God, we don’t do burnt offerings or anything like that.  But we do have our own version of these things.  A pledge, tithe, or any financial contribution can easily be seen as an offering in a similar way to the tithes of crops, and flocks that the ancient Israelites brought to the temple.  

Many of us also look at the ‘rules’ of our faith as a kind of offering or sacrifice to God.  We often paint God as the reason why we can’t do the thing we want to do.  These words from the prophet seem to dismiss these things as the substance of our response to God’s saving love and grace in our lives.

Instead, Micah makes it plain what God asks from us: just living, a heart and life full of kindness, and a humble relationship with God.  These things, Micah tells us are the foundation for our lives of faithful response to God’s presence in our world.  It doesn’t mean that those other sacrifices and offerings aren’t good or that they may not be appropriate.  What it does mean is that these things aren’t our ticket to God’s favor, they aren’t – in and of themselves – the appropriate response to God.  

If we are living lives overflowing in kindness, seeking justice for others and the world and centered in a humble relationship with Jesus there will be offerings and sacrifices made to God and for others, but they will be born out of this relationship with and response to God.  It is good to tithe, and there are certainly clearly discernable patterns of behavior that are more in line with a godly life than others, but this is not what God is primarily concerned with.
The things mentioned here: justice, kindness, humility are much more about a way of living and being in the world.  They are about the disposition of our hearts, and the focus of our loyalties.
God wants our hearts and so he asks us to live lives that demonstrate the things that matter most to him: actively seeking justice for his children (our sisters and brothers in need), a life defined by kindness to others, and an understanding of our rightful place in relationship to him with will cultivate both humility and gratitude.

Sharing God’s Love, 

Prayer:  Lord, help us to act justly, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with you. Amen.

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