The relationship of man to God can never be contained within a nutshell. There are so many things that man must look at to understand the will of the Almighty. But sometimes in scripture those little nutshell’s appear that seem to sum up a totality of what God desires. Micah the prophet was a contemporary of Isaiah and like the prophets of his day Micah struggled to bring the people back to the Lord. The sixth chapter of Micah finds God pleading with Israel to consider how awesome His works are and the warning for not returning to Him. In the midst of this great proclamation the prophet speaks as a third person in the conversation when he writes, “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:6-8)?
It was the Lord who commanded all the sacrifices of calves, rams, oil and dedication of the firstborn. The trouble with Israel is they kept the letter of the law without understand the meaning of the law. Keeping the law in obedience to the law of God without the heart of devotion is an empty sacrifice. The people seem to grasp for answers to appease Jehovah. Micah reminds them God has always shown them the answer of worship. The answer in a nutshell is to “do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (v8). This does not suggest there were no other regulations to keep but this summarizes what is lacking in their worship.
D. Horwood said of Micah 6:8: “To ‘do justly.’ Not only to think and speak justly, but to act so – to act with honesty, integrity, and fidelity, without injuring, defrauding, oppressing or tempting to evil any one. To ‘do justly’ is in every way to befriend your neighbor. To ‘love mercy.’ To take pleasure in acts of compassion, forgiveness, and kindness. The love of mercy is a very different thing from any act of professed mercy. Real mercy lies in the motive of kindness, and the love of it lies in the gratification felt in another’s benefit. The love of mercy is a mighty impulse to its exercise. The love of mercy gives an intensity to it. To ‘walk humbly with God.’ This indicates a teachable, submissive, thankful, patient, and dependent spirit; a close communion with God; and a progressive knowledge of the character and majesty of the Deity. As this knowledge dawns upon the soul, so does the soul sink into self-abasement. The great characteristic of walking with God on earth is trust in Christ.”
Here are three lessons we can take in life. As people of God we should be known for our honesty and fairness. Our speech is known for truth (Ephesians 4:25). The character of a Christian is based on the honest example of good works. “Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). Our word is our bond because our bond is Christ Jesus. When our name is mentioned in a conversation the character of fidelity is always thought of.
Secondly, as the saints in Christ we love mercy and show that in our lives. This is found in Paul’s admonition of Colossians 3:12-14. “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” This comes from a heart of love. It goes beyond just doing the Christian act but it lives the Christian ideal. People of God should be known as those who are full of mercy.
Finally, Micah says the character of the true worshiper is to “walk humbly with your God.” There are four parts to this admonition. First our relationship with God is a walk. We spend time with Him without the rush of life pushing us so fast we don’t have time to walk with God. Solomon declared of the Lord that there is “no God in heaven or on earth like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts” (2 Chronicles 6:14). It takes all he hear to walk with God. Two men in scripture are noted to have “walked with God” – Enoch and Noah (Genesis 5:24; 6:9). This shows a patient and loving heart to spend time with the Lord.
This walk is a humble walk. We are subservient to the pace of God in this walk. Our desires are only measured by the desires of the Lord. Wherever He leads, we will follow. Whatever hill or valley He will travel shall be our path. His word will guide my every step. Jesus left us an example that we should follow His steps (1 Peter 2:21). Walking humbly with my God expresses a companionship with God. I am not leading Him nor do I seek my own way. Where He leads I will follow is the only way to walk with my God. Finally there is the wonderful knowledge that the one I walk with is “my” God. That is personal. That is me and God. Just us two walking and talking together. The disciples who walked with Jesus will say later, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).
Micah’s nutshell: do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. It says a lot with just a few words. Words to live by.