Today I want to share some things that I have learned about walking with God in a sustainable way. I am talking about long term lifestyle, and what exactly is required to please God. Israel had these same questions thousands of years ago.
The priests had burdened the people down with religious rituals until they literally broke and said: “You ask too much, God. Nothing will satisfy You. If we brought thousands of rams or rivers of oil or even my own firstborn it would not be enough. You are unreasonable.” We pick this up in Micah chapter 6:
With what shall I come before the LORD, And bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, With calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, Ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6–8 NKJV).
As time passes, the Church tends to stack more religious requirements onto the word of God, making it more strict, and it has been that way since the very beginning. In Genesis, God told Adam to not eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). Ten verses later, Eve told the serpent they could not eat it, nor touch it (Genesis 3:3). They now thought it was a sin to touch the fruit, but it was not originally like that. The difficulty of walking with God had been increased.
Jesus taught His disciples about the same pattern in the scribes and pharisees. Let’s compare what Jesus had to say about the Pharisees, and Himself:
The Pharisees: (Matthew 23:4) “…bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”
Jesus: (Matthew 11:28-30) “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Here we have a heavy religious burden, verses a light one. The Pharisees added more and more rules to the word of God, until the point that it became mysterious, and you needed a guru to figure out what He meant, but Jesus simplified it: Love God, love your neighbor, and the rest will fall into place (Matthew 22:34).
In Micah, the Lord said: “What is required of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” This is a consistent theme throughout the Bible, and we should note that Jesus was all of these things: Jesus was just, He was merciful, He was humble, and He lived His life as an example for us.
To Do Justly: means to act in a just, fair way towards others. To treat them the way that you would like to be treated yourself. Likewise, Jesus said do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12).
To Love Mercy: means to show compassion or forgiveness to someone when you have the upper hand, and you could cause them harm if you chose to, to give them a break. Also, it is not just to show mercy, but to love to show it. To give others the same measure of mercy that you want to receive from God. Jesus said: “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Paul wrote that God Himself is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4).
To Walk Humbly With Your God: The best description of humility to me was given by C.S. Lewis when he said: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Humility is not degrading yourself in order to glorify God. It is taking the role of the servant.
True humility is seen most clearly in the life of Jesus Christ. There is no painful introspection or self-debasement seen in the life of Jesus, only a single vision to serve God with His whole heart. He was willing to wash His disciples feet like a servant, though He was their Master.
True humility can only be seen in action, and not heard from lips. When someone talks a great deal about their humility and prays about it in public, they are typically a canting hypocrite.
Jesus said: “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). James wrote: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).
To do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with your God; those are His requirements. Too often our knowledge of God is contaminated with man-made rules that have nothing to do with scripture. Jesus said: “in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).
For example, the Pharisees taught that it was defiling to eat without first ceremonially washing your hands up to the elbow, and they condemned Jesus’ disciples for not doing this (Matthew 15:1). But Jesus said that nothing going into a man defiles him, but that which comes out of his heart. To eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man. (Matthew 15:20). That was a direct lie that had been added to the word of God, and then taught in place of the word of God.
If your knowledge of God is full of requirements for how to dress, how to wear makeup, what you should eat or drink, and what music to listen to, then you have been deceived by man-made traditions that someone added to the word of God. Where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty. When the spirit of legalism is present, there is bondage.
There is also a level of immaturity that is perfectly acceptable to God. We do not expect two-year-old children to behave like they are ten. They fall down more, and we gladly help them back up. In the same way, God understands our level of maturity. We don’t have to be perfect, though we should all be trying. But something that we should all have in common is to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.
You can pray this with me if you like:
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please help me do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before You all the days of my life. Please clear my mind of things that don’t belong there and help me focus on what matters to You, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.
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