Micah 6:1-8

Nobody
wants to receive a summons to court, especially family court. Every family has
its fair share of dirty laundry. Who doesn’t cringe at the thought of having
it aired in public?

Nevertheless,
we find ourselves presented with such a summons in today’s text (vv. 1-2).
God has called for His children to answer for themselves in a case of neglect
and abandonment. Strangely, it isn’t a case of a father who has neglected
his children but children who’ve abandoned their Father.

The
ugliness started back when the children felt exasperated over 613 rules handed
down by the Father and bound up in five books they called “the Law.”
“Unreasonable,” they bellowed, as they stomped rebelliously away (v.
3).

Then
came the summons. Remin-ded by their loving Father of how well He had provided
for and protected them across the years, they exaggerated the lengths to which
they’d go to make things right (vv. 4-7). “Unnecessary,” said the
Father, “here’s all I’ve ever expected of My children” (v.
8).

First,
I want you to do justly.

Possess
personal integrity. Don’t lie, cheat, or steal. Don’t sneak anything
into the fine print at the bottom of the contract that would serve to your advantage
and to the detriment of the other party. Set a high standard of honesty to live
up to. Be so honest in your dealings with others that they wouldn’t believe
you could do wrong unless they saw it with their own eyes.

Henry
Bosch, a contributor to the devotional guide Our Daily Bread, tells of
watching his father return to a convenience store a second news-paper that he
picked up accidentally without purchasing. He didn’t want the store’s
manager to think him dishonest.

A
week later the police were summoned to the store to investigate the shoplifting
of some expensive items. They determined only two men were in the store at the
time the merchandise went missing: John Bosch and another man. When the officers
informed the manager about their suspects, he remembered John returning the paper
a week earlier and jumped to his defense. At his urging, the police questioned
the other fellow who soon confessed to his crime.

John’s
honesty cost him a little humiliation and inconvenience in the short-term, but
it paid off in the long-term. Integrity always does – if not in this world, in
the next. Regardless of any reward, the Father requires it of us.

Second,
I want you to love mercy.

Cherish
grace and mercy. The ancient word is hesed, often translated “lovingkindness”
in the KJV. Hesed is withholding retaliation that is deserved while showing kindness
that isn’t. Hesed is what Jonathan asked David to show his descendants in
1 Sam. 20:15, and is precisely what Israel’s third king showed his friend’s
crippled son Mephibosheth years later.

In
our tolerant, relativistic society, we need to make an important distinction here.
Hesed isn’t blind to the fact a wrong has occurred nor afraid to say so.
That’s moral cowardice. Hesed sees the wrong, may even call the offender’s
attention to it, but shows kindness nonetheless.

Please
notice, though, we’re not just to do mercy like we’re told to do justly,
we’re commanded to love mercy. Literally, we’re to be lovers of lovingkindness.
Naturally, we love to retaliate. How do we overcome that? By appreciating how
much we personally need mercy and grace from those who know us best. What you
appreciate, you come to love.

Our
Father tells us to hold ourselves to a high standard of honesty and to show others
mercy when they don’t measure up. We prefer that others be honest with us
and show us mercy when we don’t measure up. We want the easy way out. God’s
way is far more demanding.

Third,
I want you to walk humbly with me.

Live
in humility before Me. Place yourself under My authority.

Jesus
taught us to pray, “May thy kingdom come, and thy will be done, on earth
as it is in Heaven.” When you offer up that petition, remember that you are
made out of earth, the dust of the ground. When you pray “thy will be done
on earth,” you’re asking God first to have His own way in the earth
that is you.

To
pray that petition sincerely calls for humility, but not the kind you have to
work up on your own. Just realizing that He is God in Heaven, and you are but
dust blowing across the face of the earth, is humbling enough.

Do
justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with Him. Simple enough, but hardly easy. The
children of Israel never did keep the rules per-fectly. Truth be told, neither
have we – nor can we. Only one Son perfectly obeyed, 2,000 years ago; and out
of jealousy, the rest of us banded together to crucify Him. Amazingly, when the
Father looked at the shed blood of His only perfect Son, He began to see the rest
of us kids in a better light.

____________________

Sermon
brief provided by: Greg Hollifield, Chaplain with Youth for Christ and instructor
at Crichton College in Memphis, TN

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About The Author

Gregory-K-Hollifield-232x232

Gregory K. Hollifield is the Assistant Academic Dean at Lancaster Bible College at Memphis Center for Urban Theological Studies.

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