What Does the Lord Require?

Micah 6:6-8 “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

When people are sorry for their sins and trust him for forgiveness, they are ready to do whatever God asks. No request would be too big.

The suggested offerings here build to a crescendo in ever-increasing value. The whole burnt offering is the one type of offering in Israel which was given up entirely to God. The priest and the bringer of the sacrifice received no part of it as they did with the other sacrifices. Calves were livestock enjoyed by the wealthy of Micah’s time. It was the most expensive animal you could offer. Thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of oil would stagger the wealth of the richest kings.

Then the penitent person even suggests his own child, and his firstborn at that. Obviously, you can’t put a price on anyone’s life. But what could be more dear than the life of your own child? Even so, when a person has come to realize the horrible fate from which God has saved him, the precious price God paid to do so, and the immeasurable love that moved him to do so, there is nothing he would not do if the Lord asked him. Abraham was ready to make the last sacrifice Micah lists.

But those who understand God’s grace ought to know better than to think they might pay for their own sins. Only one life could be offered for our transgressions. Only one life could pay for the sin of our souls. That sacrifice is one only the Lord himself could provide. His Son, not ours made the payment. What God desires is a response of gratitude, not another sacrifice for sin.

 “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Far more dear to God than our things, our wealth, or our treasures are ourselves. He wants our hearts and lives. In leading us to repentance and faith, he has already taken them. He then leads us to act justly and to love mercy. In other words, he moves us to love our neighbor. He fills us with the desire to do what is right and show kindness to others wherever we find the opportunity. The life he desires is not a complicated thing.

At the same time, he leads us to walk humbly with him. We learn to follow where he leads rather than try to drag him where we want to go. He teaches us that we need him as our leader, and to love him for that leadership. Like the life he requires, the kind of heart he desires is easy to understand.

Our Christian life is a response, not the cause of God’s grace. As believers in the sacrifice he made for us, let’s embrace the just, merciful, and humble life to which we have been called.

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