3 Simple Rules Gregory K. Hollifield November 1, 2004 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 Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.