What does God require of a Christian?
BY PASTOR BRANDON YOUNG
I like to know the rules. When I begin a new job, I want to know what is required and expected from me. I want to make sure to meet and exceed those requirements and expectations when possible, so my employer will know that I am striving to do my best. Have you ever wondered what God requires or expects from us as His dear children? Many would say that God requires a great laundry list of things, but the book of Micah lists only three things that God requires. Micah 6:6-8 asks, “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or 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? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
God doesn’t ask for burnt offerings, rivers of oil, or the sacrifice of your firstborn child. He desires for us to live justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him. What do these three things entail? What does it mean to live justly? The word “Just” in Hebrew means straight and upright. Pastor Eston Williams says, “There are nine words that are most often associated with the word, “justice,” in the Bible. “Widow,” “fatherless,” “orphans,” “poor,” “hungry,” “stranger,” “needy,” “weak” and “oppressed.” In this list of words, you did not find the word, “rich.” Indeed, rich is often associated with injustice. You don’t have to worry about the rich because the rich will be able to afford justice. Worry about the widows, the fatherless, the orphans, the poor, the hungry, the strangers, the needy, the weak, and the oppressed. God requires a commitment to the powerless in a society, people who have no voice of their own by which to redress the injustices that marginalize them as human beings. And, as is so often evident in Scripture as well as human experience, such a practice of justice most often brings one into conflict with oppressors who are perpetrating the injustice, and that makes doing justice an act of courage as well as an act of devotion to God.” To live justly is to take care of those unable to take care of themselves, and those that are unable to give us anything in return. We must remember this is not a suggestion, but a requirement of God. How well are you caring for those around you?
God also requires us to love mercy, and this is an interesting expectation. The Hebrew word “Hesed” has a double meaning and we do not have a word in the English language that means both. It has been translated “loving-kindness,” and “mercy” but no one English word can express its complete meaning. “Covenant faithfulness,” “compassion,” “loyal love,” “loving devotion,” and “steadfast love” are all attempts to translate this term. It is often used to describe God’s faithful actions throughout history on behalf of God’s people, but the term can also be used of people, often in the same covenantal contexts in which the people were expected to respond to God with steadfast loyalty and love that reflected the compassion and grace that God had demonstrated to them. It is a love that works endlessly. Pastor Eston Williams says, “Hesed,” then, is a relationship term. It is not a warm-fuzzy-feeling kind of love, but the commitment and steadfast dependability that arises from a mutual relationship. To love “hesed” was to be committed not only to God who had demonstrated “hesed” to the people. It was also to live in community in such a way that “hesed” marked life together as God’s people. To love “hesed” was to be committed to a quality of life that was governed by the principles of mutual respect, helpfulness, and loving concern.” “Hesed” is translated ‘mercy” 149 times and “kindness” 40 times in the KJV. Are we showing compassion and forgiveness and choosing to be kind to those who have wronged and hurt us?
The last requirement is to walk humbly with God and I could write for days on this topic without fully exhausting the subject. Jesus saw made himself lower than the angels, came to earth, suffered, and died! He did not ever think he did not deserve this because he was the Son of God! This is true and perfect humility. Charles Spurgeon said, “True humility is thinking rightly of thyself, not meanly. When you have found out what you really are, you will be humble, for you are nothing to boast of. To be humble will make you safe. To be humble will make you happy. To be humble will make music in your heart when you go to bed. To be humble here will make you wake up in the likeness of your Master by-and-by.” Andrew Murray said, “The humble person is not one who thinks mainly of himself; he simply does not think of himself at all! That is a powerful statement! C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite authors said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” We must place the wants, needs, and desires of others before ourselves, and realize who we really are as people. When we see our own flaws and failures, it is much easier to accept the faults of others. When we think of ourselves as something, when we are nothing, we are deceiving ourselves. We cannot act humble; we must choose to live humbly. I hope this week’s column has given a better understanding of what God requires from each of us. It is all about how we treat those around us. Do you think we can do much better? I know that I can!
(Brandon Young is pastor of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton.)
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