What sort of people should we be in a world full of conflict, poverty and hardship? In a peaceful land, such as our own, perhaps we are a little insulated from such things. However, we do have the poor among us, and many people struggle with illness and unemployment.
As an answer to our question, there’s a great description in Micah 6:8 of what God wants to see in His people. “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” The statement follows an indictment of the paltry efforts of Israel to approach God. They thought He would be happy with them if they offered a great number of animal sacrifices and expensive oils (v6-7). But without the right character and attitudes, this would fail. The world cries out for justice and kindness; so does God.
What about us? We are rightly concerned about proper worship, and obedience to the New Testament directions of what we should be as His church. But like Israel of old, this would amount to little if we neglect humility, kindness and justice.
Look at the way he phrases these things. “Do justice,” not just appreciate it. “Love kindness” (mercy), implying a great interest in being kind to others. “Walk humbly with your God,” which eliminates arrogance and a failure to notice the struggles of other people. God wants us to be obedient to Him, but He also wants us to develop the right character.
The church can’t solve everybody’s problems, nor can we tackle all the world’s hardships. But we can be just, kind and humble. Didn’t Jesus say the same? “But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion and not sacrifice.” (Matt.9:13)
What kindness do you plan to do for someone else today?
– Tim Johnson
For thousands of years men have spent huge amounts of time and money building cathedrals, shrines and monuments to God. Notre Dame in Paris took 185 years to construct, a building that has stood complete for over 600 years. And what is the motivation for such expensive structures? Often it is to capture the attention of God.
After Solomon’s temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC, returning captives wanted to build an even grander structure to somehow secure God’s blessings. They were disappointed when the replacement seemed so small (Haggai 2:3). Through prophesy, God stated in Isaiah 66:1-2 that they had it all wrong. “Thus says the Lord, ‘Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,’ declares the Lord. ‘But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”’
Man doesn’t have to build a world monument to get God’s attention. The Lord will listen to people who have humility before Him, who willingly admit their shame and regret for their failures, and who believe His word with all their heart.
This should comfort us, for it is something we can all do. But it should also caution us, to make sure our hearts are healthy. Are you just building monuments with your life, or are you offering God your heart? It’s an important question to ask yourself on this first Sunday of 2016.
Our country is known as a kind place where people treat each other fairly. But with our busy schedules requiring us to be three places at once, our finer qualities seem to be lagging these days. Our worst offense is simply be in somebody else’s way.
God has always called on His people to be kind and sympathetic, even when others urge us to be mean. The prophet Elisha managed to trick an invading army and disarm them single-handedly, in 2 Kings 6:22-23. He led them blinded into the middle of Samaria and, surrounded by bloodthirsty Jewish soldiers urging slaughter, Elisha insisted on feeding them instead. “So he prepared a great feast for them, and when they had eaten and drunk he sent them away.” Such consideration was unheard of in such violent times! It granted years of peace for Israel. Continue reading