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?
Righteousness is one of the underlining ingredients that followers of Christ are encouraged to seek. One reason we do this is, as scripture points out, is because none of us are right… not one. Often we go about trying to convince others of how right we are. We create our own standards, accept the standards set by others, or fall in line with the standards imposed by society. For the most part, when we do this, it’s a frail attempt to pass the burden of responsibility on to someone else. Righteousness is the sole responsibility of each individual… especially those of us who have chosen fellowship with God and Christ.
This passage from Micah, although short, has a wealth of instruction packed within its words. First and foremost, we don’t have to accept the standards of others, or use their standards as an excuse. God Himself has already set the standard and showed us through the revelation of His Word.
He has shewed thee, O man…
This opening makes it clear what God has done and why He has done it. God has made available the necessary information so every man is without excuse. Righteousness is an act of God created by God. Like most of His creation, if He had not brought it into existence, it wouldn’t be. We’re not right, we didn’t create righteousness, and we have no basis to define or set a standard for it… not without some help.
What is good…
Our understanding of righteousness is first formed in answering this simple question. Throughout our lives we are presented with a series of examples of both good and bad, at least enough to know the difference. If we can make a determination of what is good, what is the real reason why we look to others to determine that choice for us. Is it not an effort to avoid the responsibility of being found wrong in our choice (he told me, everybody does it, it’s the rule). Maybe if we shift our focus from trying to be right and make the effort to just see the good… maybe we’ll be further along in the right direction.
And what doth the Lord require of thee…
Righteousness is further embedded in our understanding with this second question. This time it points us to the one source where real answers can be found… the Lord. Because God set the standard the answer as well as our understanding of that answer, must come from Him. If God is the only one who is really right in the first place, He is the only one who can hold a requirement when it comes to righteousness. He is the one who must find our choices and actions pleasing and acceptable.
To do justly…
You might be thinking that this is simple and obvious, and on the surface it really is. The thing that we must bear in mind is God’s view of justice is seldom interpreted quite correctly by mankind. To act justly from His point of view will involve getting to know Him and His ways. Often, we don’t really make an effort to develop a deep relationship with God… one that will allow a serious understanding of His Will. Just because our actions meet the standards we set for ourselves doesn’t mean they are pleasing in His sight. Just like we want to please our family and friends, our bosses and superiors at work, or do whats necessary to stay out of trouble with the law… we should want to work to stay in God’s good graces. Anything less and we not only take advantage of His grace, but at the same time, we practice disrespect. Remember, that which we do unto others we do also unto Him.
To love mercy…
How many time have you had these thoughts, or maybe even said something like this:
Don’t go there…
You got me twisted…
I know you didn’t just say what I think you said…
You better watch your mouth… or,
Don’t make me snap.
If you’re like me, it was probably just before things got ugly.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when we don’t have a choice and it becomes necessary…
But again, if you’re like me and the truth be told, there were many occasions where I did have a choice, and so did you.
In those times we made a bad choice instead of one that was clearly better.
For many of us, “Mercy” is the last thing we chose, especially when we’re angry or when the situation doesn’t quite fit into our view of when being merciful is called for.
We opt instead to willfully give the wrongdoer the business.
We want to get them told, put them in check.
Our choice is to deal with them.
In most cases, it’s the very time that we should make an effort to deal with ourselves instead.
The average person looks for reasons to extend mercy, or simply, looks for reasons to justify not giving it.
When we do this, clearly our understanding of mercy is in need of an adjustment.
By definition… mercy is the act of not giving the punishment that is rightfully deserved.
There will never be a justified reason for giving mercy, other than the desire on our part to extend kindness.
Mercy requires thinking outside the box and breaking from the logical pattern that this world follows.
It’s one of the ways of God’s Will that we simply must trust and obey.
To walk humbly with thy God…
In order to walk humbly with God… we must first walk with Him.
The world has taught us to stand on our own two feet…
To do for ourselves…
Be tough and make it happen.
It’s no wonder we have second thoughts about ourselves when we stumble or can’t quite seem to do all that we’d like to.
We’re really not all that tough and we spend a lot of time watching things happen without our having anything to do with it at all.
In the process we’ve wasted a lot of time, being on our own, learning to see things through our eyes as if God were completely out of the picture.
When we do call on him, it’s usually to assist us with some task or situation that we reluctantly realize is beyond our ability and control.
Often we’re quite demanding, impatient, and easily upset if our petition is not answered in short order.
Does this picture look a little familiar?
It should… I know I’m guilty.
We spend a lifetime trying to walk alone, and instead of developing a humble attitude, arrogance is more likely to become our general demeanor.
We try to know everything and do everything.
Wait just a minute…
Isn’t that the way we describe God?
“All Knowing and All Powerful.”
We can’t walk with God trying to be Him, and if we do we certainly won’t be very humble.
How can we blame God for being upset with us?
We go out of our way to ignore Him, make a half cocked effort at trying to be Him, and then…
We come whining for God to bail us out when we get stuck in a jam.
Let them shout for joy, and be glad,
that favour my righteous cause:
yea, let them say continually,
Let the Lord be magnified,
which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
It looks like you can expect a few things…
Provided you’re willing to go along with a few things.
What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?
One of the best ways we can bless the Lord is to render our obedience to His causes and follow His requirements concerning them.
When we follow God’s plan, working in His service, the Kingdom is increased.
This adds benefit to those in need, and provides benefits for us as well.
Since it’s God’s program that we’re involved in, it has to be a righteous one.
Clearly… there are added benefits promised for doing this.
When you place yourself…
And I do mean place yourself…
In the Will of God…
Following His direction from a willing heart…
Good things happen.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good;
and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil:
for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence:
and his children shall have a place of refuge.
1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient,
love is kind. It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
O my God,
and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God,
and for the offices thereof.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee:
be not dismayed; for I am thy God:
I will strengthen thee;
yea, I will help thee;
yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Shew me a token for good;
that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed:
because thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Our righteousness, any righteousness that we have hope to achieve, only comes to us as we live according to God’s purpose.
It is imputed to us by the faith we have in obedience to His Will.
It is only when we align ourselves to purposely do what God has instructed us to do that we reap the benefits attributed to the righteous.
The requirement for righteousness is faith in God and faith in His righteous cause.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith:
as it is written,
The just shall live
When we submit to God, in faith, with a willing heart…
Our rewards will be more than we could ever ask or imagine.
The following is just a short list of what God has promised.
For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.
The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.
The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble.
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.
The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.
He that trusteth in his riches shall fall; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.
Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
As you can see…
“The Rewards of Righteousness.”