I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Micah 6:6-8 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
What God Requires
6 “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?
7 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?”
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?
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Our reading for today lays out very simply what is truly good and what God requires: to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. I invite you to think about those requirements for a few minutes:
Do justice. The prophet Amos would say, even more poetically, let justice roll down like an ever-flowing stream. Notice that justice is not something you talk about. It doesn’t say talk justice. It’s not something we just think about; it doesn’t say think justice or wish for—it doesn’t say wish justice. Or we aren’t commanded to complain about the lack of it. Rather it says, “DO justice.”
Justice is something we do because God is faithful and just. We are called to work for justice, for fairness, for equity, particularly for those who are weak, outcast, or powerless. If you look at the ministry of Jesus, his ministry was about justice. His ministry was so often targeted for those who were most in need, those who were most out of the loop, those who had the least power. Jesus went to the tax collectors and the sinners, those who were the outcasts in his day. Our call is to do justice.
Love kindness, or—as the Common English Bible translates it—embrace faithful love. The Hebrew word is chesed, which means, “loving kindness.” This requirement is to love, or be committed to, loving kindness. I like the Complete Jewish Bible translation: to love grace. If we are leading a life in response to God’s goodness, then,
We will love kindness.
We will love grace.
We will love mercy.
We will embrace faithful love.
We will let mercy be our first concern.
We will treasure constant love.
We will love being kind to others.
Paul said kindness is one of the aspects of the fruit of the spirit. Paul said if we are walking in the spirit, then our lives will bear the fruit of kindness. So much of the scripture is about simple kindness. And we downplay it a bit because it’s just too simple. We want something a little more complicated, something a little more complex, maybe a little more intricate, certain hoops we need to jump through in order to do God’s will.
In a nutshell, what God requires is a deep love and commitment to grace and loving kindness. Think about what that means. To love something is to place it in an important place in our lives. To love something is to pay attention to it and to live by it. Therefore, to love kindness means that we will certainly think about kindness, live it out in our lives, make it important, pay attention to it, think about it and, above all, DO acts of kindness.
Walk humbly with your God. Note the word walk. It means being in relationship with God, walking alongside of God, following God, allowing God to be at the center of our living. All of those are ways of walking humbly with God. That word walk suggests a journey of faith with the Lord. When Jesus describes himself as “the way, and the truth and the life” (John 14:6), he is echoing this image of a journey. Jesus is our way, showing us exactly how we are to walk with God. When he first calls his disciples, he doesn’t say, “Agree to these fine points of theology.” Instead, he says, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19).
John Adams, the second president of the United States, in a letter to his granddaughter Caroline, in response to a comment of hers about the riddles of life, wrote, “The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…. Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. That is enough…. So questions and so answers your affectionate grandfather.” [cited by David McCullough, John Adams (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001), 650]
What does the Lord require of us? It’s simple—though not always easy: “Do justice, embrace faithful love and walk humbly with your God.”
There is a lot of theology woven in to hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Jesu, Jesu” by Tom Colvin (1963). I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. Listen to this hymn on SoundCloud.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster