One Verse Wonders Series
Pastor Rich Knight
Central Congregational Church
Nov. 4, 2018
Intro to the passage.
Micah was a prophet.
He lived 8th C. BC. 740 BC – 690 BC. He was a contemporary of Isaiah, Amos & Hosea. This passage will be even more meaningful if I tell you a little bit about prophets in ancient Israel. They were amazing courageous servants of God!
Prophets in general were not part of the mainstream of society. They often were on the outskirts looking in. And from that vantage point they would speak of word from God to the people – often words of correction and warning. They would critique the society in which they lived, from God’s perspective. It usually went like this: “The Word of the Lord came to Micah . . . . and he said, ‘Thus says the Lord your God . . . .”
In this passage, Micah even takes a swipe at Israel’s king, King Hezekiah, who was known for his extravagant animal sacrifices done to supposedly honor God. The thoughts was to feed God/gods through the sacrifice. Micah says, “God’s not really impressed with that at all.”
The prophet Amos once proclaimed God saying, 21I hate your festivals . . . even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them . . . I will not look upon them. 24But (instead) let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
The prophets critiqued every area of life. The world of politics as well as the religious practices of the day (Micah 5). They were fed up with a corrupt judicial system – judges accepting bribes, making unjust decisions (chapters 3 & 7). They were fed up with the economic system, especially how the rich prospered off the backs of the poor (Ch. 2). Micah grew up with poor farmers. He was especially concerned with their plight. The gap between the rich and the poor was huge (as it is today), and the rich had great contempt and disregard for the poor.
So Micah is writing during troubled times, where people thought they were right with God because of their religious practices, but in actuality their hearts were far from God. Let’s take a look.
“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? 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?” He has told you, O mortal, 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?
Today’s One Verse Wonder: Micah 6:8
He has told you, O mortal, 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.
I’d be fine if you only remember the 2nd half of the verse:
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice,
and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.
How often do we long to know God’s will for our lives?
Should I marry this person or not?
Should I go to this college or another college?
Should I take this job or keep looking?
Should I move or stay in my house?
And we want to know what is God’s best for our lives. What is God’s will or God’s plan? And often we stumble around until we find a way or make a way. But not today!
“He has shown you, O mortal, who is good and what the Lord requires of you . . . to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.”
- Do Justice.
We’re to do justice. Not just root for justice, lobby for justice and hope & pray (“thoughts & prayers”) for justice. We’re to do justice. Just do it!
We’re to make the world more just, more fair, more what God desires.
Example. We can go to our beautiful grocery stores and buy dental floss in various styles, widths and flavors. Do we really need mint dental floss?
Yet, Becky Wisniewski told us about a student she had in Lowell who couldn’t afford to go to the dentist. And he sat in class every day with a tooth ache. And she “did justice.” She paid for his dental appointment.
And that’s why our Social Action & Mission Committee supports the Lowell Community Health Center, so kids that need it can get free dental care.
Here’s another example. We can again go to our beautiful grocery stores and buy 8-10 different kinds of apples. Alisa told me one day to pick up some apples at the store. I forgot to ask which kind. (I brought home 4 different kinds!) Yet many inner city folks never get fresh fruit & vegetables. It’s either not available or they can’t afford it. But thanks to the Community Garden crew, they do get fresh vegetables at the Open Pantry. You folks are “Doing justice.”
What does the Lord require of you but to Do Justice, and secondly . . .
- To Love Kindness.
We’re to LOVE kindness!
Not just practice it from time to time when it’s convenient, but to love it.
We’re to strive to become experts in the art of kindness.
The great Jewish scholar Abraham Joshua Heschel once said: “When I was young I admired smart people. Now that I am old I admire kind people.”
Illustration. One of my favorite preachers, Tony Campolo, tells the story about a homeless lady who one day went to Nordstrom’s Deparment store, a very fancy, high-end store.
Her clothes were dirty, her stockings had rolled down to her ankles. She held a gym bag in her hand. It was obvious that this bag lady was out of place and that she would not be able to buy anything. Most of the dresses were in the thousand dollar price range. It seemed that at any moment a security guard would arrive and usher the bag lady out of the store, but instead of a security guard a stately saleswoman came over to her and asked, “May I help you, madam?”
The homeless woman said, “Yeah, I want to buy a dress.”
“What kind of dress?” the saleswoman asked in a polite and dignified way.
“A party dress.”
“You’ve come to the right place. Follow me. I think we have some of the finest party dresses available.”
The saleswoman spent more than ten minutes matching dresses with the woman’s eye color and helping her ascertain which dress would go best with her complexion and preferred taste. After selecting three dresses that they together decided would be good choices, she took the woman into the dressing room. After about ten minutes of trying on the dresses with the saleswoman’s help, the bag woman said abruptly, “I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going to buy a dress today.”
“That’s all right,” the saleswoman said gently, “but here’s my card. Should you come back to Nordstrom department store, I do hope that you will ask for me. I would consider it a privilege to wait on you again.”
The saleswomen happened to be wearing a pin with the letters, WWJD on it.
She could have just as easily had Micah 6:8 on it.
Do Justice. Love Kindness, and
- Walk Humbly with God.
The commentaries I looked at this week all pointed out that this isn’t as easy as it sounds. “Walking humbly with God” doesn’t mean casually going through life with an occasional nod to God, as our Creator and Savior. It doesn’t mean having God be one slice of the pie that makes up our lives. It means having God at the Center of our lives, the Control Room of our hearts, which is where God wants to be. It means not just offering up an occasional burnt offering to God, but rather living for God 7 days a week.
The church exists to help us do just that.
That’s what Micah understood so long ago.
He so clearly understood God’s will for our lives –
To Do Justice, to Love Kindness and to Walk Humbly with God.
It’s as simple and as hard as that!