“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” – Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard
Be careful what drives your emotion and in which direction! In pop-Christianity, people claim they are elevating God; they just functionally believe that is done by emoting passionately during the service to “give everything to Him.” Me-centered Christianity is very expressive, but we must take great care as to the content of the worship.
“I don’t get the hype,” my friend said about the new restaurant opening in our city.
“Seriously?” I asked. I’d been unofficially counting down the days until opening, waiting for the renowned barbeque joint to open its Tallahassee outpost. We were getting hometown access to the Tom Brady of ribs and my buddy didn’t “get the hype.” As former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden would say, “Goodness gracious sakes alive.”
On the drive back from our inaugural lunch, I asked my friend what he thought about the food itself and he casually said, “It was fine. I just don’t really get the appeal.”
In this instance, my friend was beginning with a severe skepticism that even delicious barbeque couldn’t overcome. On the other hand, I was beginning with high expectations, which were bound to either lead to extreme disappointment or a biased impression of what was put onto my plate. In either case, we were both in for a confrontation between expectation and reality. But the sort of excited optimism I had comes close to what we’re seeing amongst antsy, searching people and a prosperity gospel that promises a God whose chief goal is to facilitate your personal happiness. It’s not hard to find the appeal.
We all feel pressure to pursue peace with God, whether that means reasoning away His existence or seeking to appease whatever version of Him we think exists. That’s part of the issue with the new prosperity gospel. Whereas the Bible teaches that peace with God comes via death (to Christ and also to self), this newer message implies that peace with God is settled, and we can now return to the preeminent goal of self-fulfillment. The ultimate appeal is that you can pursue the earthly carrots dangling in front of you in the name of Christianity.
To accept Christianity, then, is to accept objective truth claims that carry the weight of other objective claims about reality. And, as with other objective claims about reality, there is a consequence for rejecting truth. There is a consequence for rejecting reality. Paul’s assertion that there is only one gospel was well warranted. It is the only Gospel that leads to eternal life, regardless of personal opinions to the contrary. Any rejection of this claim will, unsurprisingly, have eternal consequences.
Easily the most well-known Bible verse in America today is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” Placed on bumper stickers and seen on signs in football field end zones, it is likely that most people, skeptic and Christian alike, have heard of this verse or some variation of its content. However, hidden in this verse about God’s love is a controversial suggestion: that those that do not believe in Jesus Christ will not “have eternal life.” While this verse offers hope and comfort to the Christian faithful, for non-believers it can be one more example of the judgmental nature of Christianity.
Huffington Post contributor Terrance Thomas succinctly summarized this view, writing, “To suggest that 1 out of 4200 religions holds all of the truth and the key to salvation is not only arrogant, it is spiritually narcissistic.” Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spoke to the exclusive, potentially judgmental nature of Christianity when she noted in a 2020 interview, “A lot of young people are leaving the Church, in part because the way they understand what Christianity has become … so judgmental, so alienating that they think to themselves, ‘well, I don’t need that.’”
Clinton is correct in her analysis: many young Christians are leaving the church and a significant portion cite the judgmental nature of the faith and its assertion that it holds exclusive truth as leading reasons for their departure.
There is simply no getting around the idea that Christianity teaches it holds exclusive truth that requires the rejection of other beliefs. Luke quotes the Apostle Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers, as proclaiming, “There is salvation in no one else [apart from Jesus]; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Jesus said much the same concerning himself and his teachings, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). The Apostle Paul was adamant that Christianity was not only true, but also the one true way to God.
When Christians in Galatia began believing in a modified version of Christianity, Paul wrote them a letter reading:
“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel… even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:6-8)
In light of these New Testament verses and others (including numerous similar verses in the Old Testament) it is difficult to call oneself a Christian without accepting the exclusive nature of its truth claims. Anyone calling themself a Christian – while simultaneously denying its objective truth claims – would have to reject much, if not all, of Christian scripture, rendering their version of “Christianity” meaningless. Christian scripture clearly teaches what it believes to be objective, exclusive truth claims which have real-world consequences.
It is important to understand what is meant by the claim that “Christianity is true.” Many truth claims may be considered personal or subjective. Many aesthetic judgements (such as one’s personal view of the best movie) lie well within the realm of “subjective truth.” The claim that a certain movie is “best” is clearly a statement meant to imply the personal preference of the speaker and does not require the acceptance or rejection of those around them. As a result, such claims can be easily accepted or ignored as they bear no real, transcendent, obligatory weight.The claims related to Christianity, however, are not subjective. The claims of the New Testament – in particular the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – are made as objective claims (claims that are true for all people regardless of personal opinions) with real consequences for everyone. The Apostle Paul makes this point clear in 1 Corinthians, writing, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless.” (1 Corinthians 15:17) Such objective truth claims have a bearing on reality and call for a response (even if it is to ultimately reject the claims).
Objective truth claims are – by their very nature – exclusive. To state one claim is true is to imply that any competing claim is false. Further, truth is inherently important and meaningful and cannot be escaped; to argue that truth does not matter is a non-sequitur (as one would essentially be arguing that it is true that truth does not matter, and that this truth is so meaningful that one should accept the proposition that truth is not meaningful). All belief systems (whether they identify as “religious” or not) must agree on this point.
All the world’s major religions (be it Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, etc) make objective claims about reality, and these objective claims contradict one another. As a result, these religions may all be objectively false, but they cannot all be objectively true.
On this episode of Polemics Report for July 7th, 2021, JD discusses the biblical origins and principles that make capitalism the preferred economic system for believers and digs into the ideological battle between the Prince of Preachers, Charles H. Spurgeon, and the emissary of the devil Karl Marx. In the Patron portion, David and JD answer questions about the origins of the downgrade of American Christianity and patriotism within the worship service.
To listen to the free, truncated version, click below.
Measures to curb the coronavirus’ spread, like mask wearing and social distancing, effectivelyblunted last year’s flu season: Just 155 Americans were hospitalized with the flu from October through January. That’scompared to around 8,600during roughly the same time period a year prior.
But as Americans ditch their masks and return to normal activities, experts caution that respiratory infections could become more prevalent again.
“I do anticipate that in the months ahead, if people are not wearing masks – and we’ve started to see some of this already – that there will likely be an increase of upper respiratory infections in places that are not wearing masks,” Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said ata White House press briefinglast week.
Common colds are particularly likely to spread, since they’re a year-round illness (though cold cases typically spike in the spring and winter).
“There’s no doubt the colds are coming back,” Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, told Insider.
In some instances, colds could be easily confused with a mild COVID-19 case. The following chart shows how COVID-19 symptoms either overlap with or diverge from symptoms commonly associated with colds, flu, and seasonal allergies:
COVID-19 compared to other common conditions
New loss of smell or taste
Shortness of breath
Muscle aches or pains
Swollen fingers or toes
Itchy eyes, nose, or mouth
Chest pain or discomfort
Note: * In childrenSource: COVID Symptom Study; CDC; Mayo Clinic; NIH
So public-health experts are considering whether the Delta variant – which is now dominant in the UK – is causing a somewhat different set of symptoms than the original strain. It’s also possible that average COVID-19 symptoms appear milder lately because more young, healthy people (who are less likely to be vaccinated) are getting infected – or getting official diagnoses – than earlier in the pandemic.
For the most part, though, fully vaccinated people rarely contract COVID-19, let alone develop symptoms. From January to April, just0.01% of vaccinated Americans– around 10,000 out of 100 million people – got COVID-19 after they were fully immunized, according to aMay CDC report. About 27% of those infections were asymptomatic.
That means severe respiratory symptoms among vaccinated people are more likely the result of something other than COVID-19, Gandhi said.
“There are more people hospitalized for other non-COVID respiratory pathogens in the UK right now than there are for COVID-19,” Gandhi added. “That’s what happens when you mass vaccinate.”
Is it COVID-19? Allergies? The common cold?
COVID-19 rarely follows a neat pattern. The CDC estimates that around 30% of cases are asymptomatic, while the remainder can range from mild to severe. The disease can bring a variety of symptoms, the most common of which include fever, cough, loss of smell or taste, headaches, sore throat, and fatigue.
But vaccines could be making symptoms milder overall, so it’s difficult to tell what an average case looks like now.
The COVID Symptom Studyfoundthat loss of smell was more common among those who were fully vaccinated than those who hadn’t been immunized. Meanwhile, fever was more common among unvaccinated than vaccinated people.
“Our hope is it’ll get milder,” Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London,recently told Insider. “So it will just become like a cold.”
Both colds and COVID-19 tend to develop gradually – whereas the flu and allergies have more abrupt symptoms, as the chart below shows.
COVID Symptom Study; CDC; Mayo Clinic; NIH; Taylor Tyson/Insider
On average, people with COVID-19 start to feel sick five days after they were infected, though symptoms can manifest anywhere from two days to two weeks post-infection.
Similarly, people with a common cold may have a sore throat for eight days, a headache for nine to 10 days, and congestion, a runny nose, or cough for more than two weeks. Cold symptoms usually reach their peak within two to three days of infection.
People with the flu, on the other hand, typically feel sick one to four days after exposure.
Allergies tend to last longer – about two to three weeks per allergen – and won’t resolve until the allergen leaves the air. Peak allergy season lasts through July this year, so some runny noses may be attributable to pollen, not COVID-19. But getting tested is still the only way to know for sure.
Amid growing privacy concerns over the Biden administration’s effort to promote Covid-19 jabs among unvaccinated Americans, a document has resurfaced outlining “helpful hints” for the so-called “health ambassadors.”
The toolkit, dubbed ‘Door Knocking Project to Increase COVID Vaccine Acceptance’, and a training video for the so-called“health ambassadors,”were released by the Lake County, Illinois authorities back in April, but only caught attention this week, after President Biden spoke about a shift towards taking pro-vaccination message“door-to-door.”
Thedocumentoffers a list of various tips, ranging from“Inform, don’t convince”to“Knock and then back up”and“Ignore no soliciting signs.”
Ignore no soliciting signs. You’re not soliciting! You’re offering critical information and resources. What you are doing is not illegal.
The door-knockers were specifically instructed to fill out a spreadsheet with the counts of who is already vaccinated and who is“not interested”, as well as report back their questions, concerns and other“important information that the Health Department is relying on.”
Also on rt.com
The bulletin also advised volunteers to keep calm and not get discouraged by possible“rude”reactions, stick to a“script,”stay confident and“have fun.”
This is an amazing thing you’re doing. Regardless of how people respond, have confidence that you are making a difference and helping to save lives.
The resurfaced document, especially its parts about soliciting and keeping the naughty list, raised even more red flags with critics of the ongoing initiative.
Yes, the door-to-door thing is really happening. “Ignore the no soliciting signs! You’re not soliciting, you’re begging.”pic.twitter.com/Z8Loe531EC
Earlier this week, US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra raised some eyebrows afterdeclaringthat it’s“absolutely the government’s business”to know whether or not citizens have been vaccinated against Covid-19. He insisted that“knocking on a door has never been against the law”and“it is our business”to make sure Americans can“prosper”and“freely associate”by getting inoculated against Covid-19.
Also on rt.com
“Now we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood and, oftentimes, door to door – literally knocking on doors – to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus,”Biden told reporters on Tuesday, separately adding that coronavirus“surge response teams”would also be mobilized to combat new outbreaks among the unvaccinated.
Critics claim that such a program violates their privacy and could lead to conflicts and further rights abuses, with Becerra only adding fuel to the fire when he argued that the administration only wants to give Americans“the sense that they have the freedom to choose.”
We try to give people as much freedom and choice as possible, but clearly, when over 600,000 Americans have died, the best choice is to get vaccinated.
Foreign Office and Washington sources have told the Sunday Express the Biden administration had informally suggested the former US President but Boris Johnson does not want Mr Obama to fill the post. If true it would be the first known case of a potential US Ambassador to the UK appointment being objected to by the British government. There have been disagreements between Mr Obama and Mr Johnson since 2016 when he came on a visit to Britain during the EU referendum and claimed Britain would be “at the back of the queue” for trade deals.
It was an almost unprecedented intervention in a domestic issue in Britain by a serving US President and was aimed at undermining a core argument of the Leave campaign being led by Mr Johnson by dismissing claims that EU trade could be replaced by a US trade deal.
Mr Johnson also is said to have infuriated Mr Obama with a column he wrote on the then US President suggesting his remarks were linked to his dislike of Britain because of his father’s family coming from Kenya and opposing British colonial rule.
He also highlighted how Mr Obama had removed a bust of Churchill from the Oval Office on being sworn in as President as further evidence of his disdain for Britain.
One senior Whitehall source told the Sunday Express: “It’s absolutely true that the government has privately objected to an Obama appointment. It’s also true that this is why there is a delay.”
Another senior source said: “Obama is just unacceptable. The back of the queue comment alone makes him unacceptable.”
All flu/covid strains are virtually alike, differences among them too minor to matter.
US/Western dark forces/media proliferated claims about a Delta scariant are pseudo-science fake news to scare refusniks into self-inflicting harm.
They’re also about pushing twice-jabbed individuals to jab more toxins into their bodies for more greatly destroying their health than already — along with letting Pfizer, and likely other Pharma profiteers, cash in more greatly than already.
On Thursday, the pro-mass infecting maximum numbers of people with deadly toxins NYT and likeminded media reported the following:
Pharma profiteer Pfizer is “developing” a new version of its hazardous to health flu/covid mRNA — DNA altering — technology.
On the phony pretext of targeting Delta — that’s virtually identical to other flu/covid strains — a third jab is coming, to be followed by calls for annual or semi-annual follow-up ones.
Claims about more contagious and highly dangerous Delta are state-sponsored fake news.
So is saying unjabbed individuals are most vulnerable to infection. Based on science — not the heavily promoted pseudo version — it’s the other way around.
Protecting and preserving health requires rejection of toxic flu/covid jabs.
According to Pfizer and mass-jabbing partner BioNTech — a German biotech company — on Thursday:
Delta is 60% more contagious than (the most common) Alpha strain (sic).
They lied saying Delta is driving outbreaks among unjabbed populations in various countries (sic).”
Calling Delta the dominant US variant at this time, they falsely claimed that new cases may be rising in the US because of the strain (sic), adding:
A slowing mass-jabbing drive and swift reopenings are also playing roles, they said (sic) — defying science.
Both companies falsely claimed that a third jab of their (toxic) flu/covid drug “has the potential to preserve the highest levels of protective efficacy against all currently known variants including Delta (sic) — a bald-faced Big Lie.
They’re beginning clinical trials in August — to be unscientifically fast-tracked like last year’s trials so mass-jabbing a third time is OK’d as soon as possible.
Both companies continue to deceive consumers in the US and worldwide, falsely claiming that “efficacy (of their hazardous to health mRNA jabs) to prevent serious illnesses remains high (sic),” adding:
“(A) third dose may be needed within 6 to 12 months after” earlier jabs (sic).
Pfizer/BioNTech’s entry into the flu/covid mass-jabbing sweepstakes — and others — got emergency use authorization (EUA) alone when no emergency exists, not earlier or now.
Looking ahead, it’s virtually certain in the coming weeks or months that US/UK/EU Pharma-controlled public health agencies will end the EUA charade by approving toxic flu/covid jabs — to be avoided, not taken.
Will mandating them follow during the 2021-22 flu/covid season (from October through May) when outbreaks are virtually certain to sharply increase.
On Thursday, CNN contributor Julian Zelizer called for “impos(ing) vaccine mandates and passports.”
Defying core medical ethics and the Nuremberg Code requirement for voluntary consent on all things health related, he recited a litany of bald-faced Big Lies, falsely claiming the following:
Flu/covid jabs “perform extraordinarily well (sic), but the rate of infection is worsening in (unjabbed) populations (sic),” adding:
Delta “is offering a sobering reminder that the (nonexistent) pandemic has…certainly not ended (sic).”
Zelizer’s diabolical solution to a nonissue is mandatory jabs for all Americans.
They “must…not see this as…optional,” he roared.
Defying science, along with turning international law on its head, he said taking this draconian step for “the common good (sic) is as American as apple pie (sic).”
Extremists like Zelizer endorse mass-infecting maximum numbers of people with depopulation in mind.
“Requiring (mass-jabbing) must be at the heart of our public health agenda,” he roared — to destroy it, he failed to explain.
Also calling for mandatory health passports, imposing them will ostracize refusniks — who prioritize protecting and preserving their health — from public places if this diabolical policy is ordered and enforced.
History professor Zelizer knows, or should know, that toxic flu/covid jabs destroy health.
That’s what heavily promoted US/Western mass-jabbing is all about.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chairman of Children’s Health Defense (CHD), came out with a statement warning that the plan is already having the opposite effect, as it drives Americans who are opposed to getting injected even further away from trusting anything their government tells them.
“We are now moving beyond the propaganda stage into this very coercive program where federal agents appear at American homes with the menacing message: ‘We know who you are and where you live. We have you on our list, we have your medical records, we want your neighbors to know that you are dangerous.'”
Kennedy says Biden and his cronies are basically now telling America that personal property and privacy rights are no longer being respected, and that everyone is simply expected to take an experimental injection that is dangerous and ineffective simply because the government says they should.
During an interview on CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ Kamala Harris spoke about voter ID when she made an absurd statement that shows she’s truly clueless about rural America. She said that rural Americans couldn’t possibly get a photocopy of their ID to send in to vote. Talk about out of touch…
Her appalling statement is a jaw-dropping slam to people who live in rural America. Stereotyping people who live in rural areas got under the skin of most people who commented on the video. One person said she lives on a farm in the “boonies” but has a computer and a printer she uses.
Harris also said misinformation is to blame For vaccine hesitancy. She didn’t help matters when she said (video below) she wouldn’t get a vaccine with Trump’s approval. Sure, that helped so much.
Harris On Vaccine: ‘If Donald Trump Tells Us To Take It, I’m Not Taking It.’
Faith Takes What God Gives Genesis 8:22; Nehemiah 9:6; Job 1:21; Psalm 104:27–28; 136:25; 145:15–16; 147:8; Isaiah 40:26; Acts 17:25–28
Nature lives upon alms, and the continued bounty and supplies of heaven, since the fall; and therefore those graces are most serviceable that are most receptive. Love gives, but faith takes. All God’s stars shine with a borrowed light. We are beggars now, rather than workers. The blessing of life is not in ourselves, but in Christ.
Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
The Definition of a Spiritual Exercise 1 Corinthians 9:24–27; 1 Timothy 4:8; 2 Timothy 1:7
As strolling, walking and running are bodily exercises, so every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all the disordered tendencies, and, after it is rid, to seek and find the divine will as to the management of one’s life for the salvation of the soul, is called a spiritual exercise.
IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA
Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians to address their confusion about spiritual gifts. Many of their misconceptions still exist today. So what is the purpose of spiritual gifts? Join us on Truth For Life as Alistair Begg begins a series titled Firm Foundation.
6:8 The people already knew the good things that God required (see Ps 14:1, 3; 37:3). God’s interest was not in the offering but the offerer. A person’s character and behavior mattered more to God than any gift they might bring. People were to act justly under God’s standards. They were to love faithfulness, treating one another with love and mercy. They were to walk humbly with God as their constant companion (Gn 6:9), conforming their lives to his will.
6:8 Those who believe themselves to be God’s people and who rely on the sacrifice for sin which God has provided (Heb. 10:12) have sometimes assumed that because their sins are dealt with, it does not matter how they live (Rom. 6:1). The Bible emphasizes that those who would live in fellowship with a holy God as His people must live in a way which reflects the holiness of God (cf. Lev. 20:7; 1 Pet. 1:16; 1 John 1:5). “Mercy” (hesed, Heb.) is a rich word which includes the idea of faithful love in action (cf. Jer. 2:2, note). Walking with God implies a manner of life characterized by gratefulness and obedience to God (cf. Is. 38:15). “Humbly” stresses that man must remember that he is man, and God is God. The proud man will find that God resists him (1 Pet. 5:5; cf. Prov. 11:2; Matt. 23:23; James 4:6–10).
6:8does Yahweh ask from you This verse gives the answer to the question the prophet asked in Micah 6:6–7. What God requires is heartfelt love and obedience.
to do justice A proper relationship with God also involves a proper relationship with one’s neighbor. See 3:1; Isa 5:7 and note.
kindness The Hebrew word here often occurs in reference to Yahweh’s covenant with Israel (see Deut 7:9, 12; 1 Kgs 8:23; Neh 1:5).
humbly This Hebrew word occurs only here in the ot. It traditionally has been understood as referring to humility, but it also can indicate carefulness or thoughtfulness.
6:8 The Lord desires the primary forms of love—justice (do justice), mercy (love kindness), and faithfulness (walk humbly)—as the expressed response of his people to his redemptive acts (Matt. 23:23; cf. Deut. 10:12–13; 1 Sam. 15:22; Isa. 1:11–17; Hos. 6:6). On the meaning of “justice,” see notes on Isa. 42:1; Jer. 22:3; Amos 5:7. your God. The complement to “my people” (Mic. 6:3, 5).
6:8 Sacrifices cannot replace the need for justice and kindness. The focus on real righteousness anticipates Jesus’ teaching (Matt. 5:23–24; 9:13; 15:10–20) and is fulfilled in Jesus’ own righteousness (Acts 3:14; Rom. 8:1–4).
6:8 Micah’s terse response (v. 8) indicated they should have known the answer to the rhetorical question. Spiritual blindness had led them to offer everything except the one thing He wanted—a spiritual commitment of the heart from which right behavior would ensue (cf. Dt 10:12–19; Mt 22:37–39). This theme is often represented in the OT (cf. 1Sa 15:22; Is 1:11–20; Jer 7:21–23; Hos 6:6; Am 5:15).
6:8 — What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
To be a “good Christian” requires more than personal devotions and a warm feeling inside. God wants us to show the outside world what He is doing inside of us—and that takes humble, merciful, just action.
6:8 This verse speaks about the underlying attitudes that must accompany all true worship. what does the Lord require of you: The idea here is that God seeks certain characteristics of true worship from His people. do justly … love mercy … walk humbly: These phrases summarize biblical piety in true worship. The majority of the people of Israel had violated each of these standards repeatedly. The rulers did not know justice (3:1), had no interest in mercy (3:2, 3), and demonstrated no humility (3:11). with your God: It is the Lord who ultimately gives a person strength, courage, and ability to exercise the virtues of godly living.
6:8. Micah then told the nation (O man means any person in Israel) exactly what God did desire from them. God did not want them to be related to Him in only a ritualistic way. God wanted them to be related inwardly—to obey Him because they desired to, not because it was a burden on them. That relationship, which is good (beneficial), involves three things: that individuals (a) act justly (be fair in their dealings with others), (b) love mercy (ḥeseḏ, “loyal love”; i.e., carry through on their commitments to meet others needs), and (c) walk humbly with … God (fellowship with Him in modesty, without arrogance). “Humbly” translates the verb ṣāna‘ (which occurs only here in the OT); it means to be modest. (The adjective ṣānûa‘ occurs only once, in Prov. 11:2.) The Lord had already told them of these demands (Deut. 10:12, 18). Doing justice “is a way of loving mercy, which in turn is a manifestation of walking humbly with God” (James Luther Mays, Micah: A Commentary, p. 142). Many people in Micah’s day were not being just (Micah 2:1–2; 3:1–3; 6:11), or showing loyal love to those to whom they were supposed to be committed (2:8–9; 3:10–11; 6:12), or walking in humble fellowship with God (2:3).
Ver. 8. But He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good.—Piety and true religion:—
I. What is good? You may conceive of true piety as of a tree of life planted in the midst of Paradise, in the midst of the Church, spreading as it were its branches; whereof these three in the text are the fairest. Justice and uprightness of conversation; mercy and liberality; and humility. The sacrifices and ceremonious parts of God’s worship were “good” but ex instituto, because God for some reason was pleased to institute and ordain them. In themselves they were neither good nor evil. When they were commanded, it was for the sake of that good effect which the wisdom of God could work out of them. That which is good in its own nature is always so. Piety and true religion are older than the world. Ceremonies are confined to time and place. The ceremonious part of religion was many times omitted, many times dispensed with, but this good which is here shown admitteth no dispensation. Mere outward performances of some parts of the law were not done out of any love to the law or the Lawgiver. Formal worshippers do not love the command; they obey for the sake of something else. Outward performances and formality in religion have the same spring and motive with our greatest and foulest sins. The same cause produceth them, the same considerations promote them, and they are carried to their end on the same wings of our carnal desires. This formality in religion standeth in no opposition with the devil and his designs, but rather advanceth his kingdom and enlargeth his dominion. This formality and insincerity is most opposite to God, who is a God of truth. Innocence, integrity, and mercifulness are the good man’s sacrifice. They were from the beginning, and shall never be abolished.
II. What is good, and its manifestations. View this good as it stands in opposition to the things of this world, which either our luxury or pride or covetousness has raised in their esteem and above their worth, and called good, as the heathen have done their vices. Good things are not in themselves, but only as they are subservient to the good in the text. Look at the good of the text.
1. As fitted and proportioned to our very nature. God built up man for this end alone, for this good;—to communicate His goodness to him, to make him “partaker of a Divine nature,” to make him a kind of god upon the earth, to imprint His image upon him, by which according to his measure and capacity he might express and represent God.
(1) By the knowledge not only of natural and transitory things, but also of those which pertain to everlasting life.
(2) By the rectitude and sanctity of his will.
(3) By the free and ready obedience of the outward parts and inward faculties to the beck and command of God.
2. As fitted to all sorts and conditions of men. Freedom and slavery, circumcision and uncircumcision, riches and poverty, quickness and slowness of understanding, in respect of this good, of piety and religion, are all alike. Religion is no peculiar, but the most common and the most communicative thing that is. This good is every man’s good that will.
3. As lovely and amiable in the eyes of all. This is the glory of goodness and piety, that it striketh a reverence in those who neglect it, findeth a place in his breast whose hand is ready to suppress it, is magnified by those who revile it, and gaineth honour when it cannot win assent.
4. As filling and satisfying us. That which filleth a thing must be proportioned to it. “There is nothing in the whole universe that is taken for enough by any one particular man”; nothing in which the appetite of a single man can rest. Only this good here in the text can fit it, because it is fitted to it.
5. As giving a relish and sweet taste to the worst of evils which may befall us, whilst with love and admiration we look upon it. It maketh those things which are not good in themselves useful and advantageous to us. This good is open and manifest to all. It is published by open proclamation, as a law, which hath “a forcing and necessitating power.” But if the object be so fair and visible, it may be asked, How cometh it to pass that it is hid from so many eyes, that there be so few that see it, or see it so as to fall in love with it and embrace it? Three hindrances are mentioned by Isidore of Pelusium.
(1) Narrowness and defect of the imderstanding and judgment.
(2) Sloth and neglect in the pursuit.
(3) Improbity of men’s manners, and a wicked and profane conversation. Then let us cleave fast to this good, and uphold it in its native and proper purity against all external rites and empty formalities; and, in the next place, against all the pomp of the world, against that which we call good when it maketh us evil.
III. The promulgation of this good as a law. “What doth the Lord require of thee?” This is as the publication of it, and making it a law. And His will is attended with power, wisdom, and love.
1. By His power God created man, and “breathed into him a living soul.” Made him as it were wax, to receive the impressions of a Deity, made him a subject capable of a law. As God createth, so He continues man and protects him. From this ocean of God’s power naturally issueth forth His power of giving laws, of requiring what He may please from His creature.
2. As His absolute will is attended with power uncontrollable, so it is also with wisdom unquestionable. The “only wise God.” His laws are like Himself, just and holy, pure and undefiled, unchangeable, immutable, and everlasting. As His wisdom is seen in giving laws, so it is in fitting the means to the end, in giving them virtue and force to draw us to a nearer vision and sight of God.
3. God’s absolute will is attended with love. These are the glories of His will; He can do what He will; He will do it by the most proper and fitting means; and whatsoever He requireth is the dictate of His love. Consider the form in which God’s requirements are presented, and the manner of proposing them. The prophet here does not “bid us do any great things.” When men pretend they cannot do what God requires, they should change their language; for the truth is, they will not. It is not only easy, it is sweet and pleasant to do what God requireth. Obedience is the only spring from whence the waters of comfort flow, an everlasting foundation on which alone joy and peace will settle and rest. Take in view the substance of these words of the text. The word “Lord” is a word of force and efficacy; it striketh a reverence into us, and remembereth us of our duty and allegiance. As He is Lord paramount, and hath an absolute will, so His will is attended with power, with that power which made thee. I cannot name the several ways we stand obliged to this Lord. We may comprehend all in that axiom of the civilians, “We have as many engagements and obligations as there be instruments and writings betwixt us.”
IV. Justice and honesty. We are no sooner men, but we are debtors, under obligations to God, to men, to ourselves. To “do justly” is to give every man his own, not to lay hold on, or alienate or deceitfully withdraw, or violently force from any man that of which he is the lawful possessor. Private justice is of far larger extent than that which is public, which speaketh and acteth from the tribunal. Public justice steereth by no other compass but the laws of men; but this by the laws of nature and charity. Justice and honesty in its full shape and beauty is fastened upon its proper pillars, the law of nature, and the law of the God of nature.
V. The love of mercy. Where there is no justice, there can be no mercy; and where there is no mercy, there justice is but gall and wormwood. Therefore in the Scripture they go hand in hand. Consider mercy—
1. In the fruit it yieldeth.
2. In its root.
VI. Walking humbly with God. Humility consisteth in placing us where we should be at the footstool of God. (A. Farindon, B.D.)
True religion a reasonable service:—
Virtue is essentially, and therefore inseparably connected with religion. It is not possible that a vitiated mind should have any proper relish for Divine truth. The animal man comprehendeth not the doctrines of the Divine Spirit. There is a strong and an insuperable reason in nature for this evident distinction between good and bad men in inquiries of religion, which is plainly this,—That every advance in celestial truth opens a prospect the most inviting to the virtuous, while the vicious man trembles at every ray of light which is let in on his disordered mind. It seems most natural to put the address of the text into the mouth of the king of Moab, in conversation with the prophet. Success against a numerous and victorious enemy engrossed the king’s thoughts. For this purpose he had recourse to the God of Israel, whose aid he endeavours to engage by a profusion of offerings in every kind of his substance, or even, if all these should fail, with the life of his son. The answer is such as well suited a representative of the Creator of the universe. “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good.” Whatever answers entirely the end for which it was made is said, in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, particularly to be good. That must be good indeed which serves admirably the purpose for which it was designed by infinite wisdom. To man alone is reserved the happy privilege of dedicating voluntarily his powers to the ends for which they were at first bestowed. This is good for man. It is naturally to be expected of him, upon whom the dominion of this world and the reversion of the next is conferred, that he should regulate his conduct by the laws of nature and of God. This is his rational worship. Obedience, arising from any other cause than moral motives, would be the motion of a stone, not the duty of a man, and consequently incapable of being in any sense acceptable to God more than the rising vapour, or the falling dew. It is most reasonable to suppose, that if ever the Creator of the world should vouchsafe to make any discovery of His intention relative to the conduct of man, the tables of revelation must contain a transcript of the laws of nature. “To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God” is the sum and great outline of the whole duty of man. To preserve a solicitous attention to God’s supreme direction, under a rational conviction of His paternal care; an equitable regard to the rights and interests of our brethren, His children; with a sensible concern for their infirmities and wants, a concern which must reach out its hand beyond the line of rigid justice. These offices are generally ranged by moralists under three different branches, as they relate to God, to mankind, and to the individual. However contracted or enlarged, this is the law of man; and this law is properly eternal and immutable, which is not so of any accidental or accessional appendages to religion. If this law were once as punctually observed as it is often plainly promulged, we should then have the same harmony in the moral as has always been in the natural world. (T. Ashton, D.D.)
What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy god?—Three things God wants of us:—
I. Explain the whole passage. The prophet alludes to the story of Balak and Balaam. The lesson drawn from the story is this,—How unavailing are the most costly sacrifices, how far from being truly acceptable to God, when not attended with true piety, justice, mercy, and a good disposition of the heart in those that offer them. For this was the case of Balak in the history told us. We have in the text a sort of dialogue betwixt Balak and Balaam, represented to us in the prophetical way. It might seem that Balaam’s advice was too good for him to give; but it is to be considered that Balaam’s character was of a mixed nature, had something good and something bad in it.
II. Raise observations on the passage.
1. This reference of one Scripture book to another is one of those internal marks of their truth and genuineness which, to men of true learning, gives great satisfaction in their study of the Sacred Scriptures.
2. How prone men must have been to rest in the mere outward performances of some acts of worship or devotion, to the neglect of those substantial duties of justice, mercy, and true piety; or that purity of heart and life which God more especially requires in those that worship Him. Learn here the harmony and agreement of God’s dispensations to mankind from the beginning of the world. Resolve to learn and practise the good lesson of the text. (C. Peters, M.A.)
What God requires:—
God had shown by His law what is good; but the prophet adds that it is “to do justly, to love mercy (or kindness), and to be humbled before God.” It is evident that, in the two first particulars, he refers to the second table of the law; that is, to “do justice, and to love mercy.” Nor is it a matter of wonder that the prophet begins with the duties of love; for though in order the worship of God precedes these duties, and ought rightly to be so regarded, yet justice, which is to be exercised towards men, is the real evidence of true religion. The prophet therefore mentions justice and mercy, not that God casts aside that which is principal—the worship of His name; but he shows, by evidences or effects, what true religion is. Hypocrites place all holiness in external rites; but God requires what is very different; for His worship is spiritual. But as hypocrites can make a great show of zeal and solicitude in the outward worship of God, the prophets try the conduct of men in another way, by inquiring whether they act justly and kindly towards one another, whether they are free from all fraud and violence, whether they observe justice and show mercy. Micah adds, however, “And to be humble in walking with thy God.” No doubt, as the name of God is more excellent than anything in the whole world, so the worship of Him ought to be regarded as of more importance than all those duties by which we prove our love towards men. The main object of the prophet was to show how men were to prove that they seriously feared God and His law: he afterwards speaks of God’s worship. Condemned here is all pride, and also all confidence in the flesh: for whosoever arrogates to himself even the least thing, does in a manner contend with God as an opposing party. The true way then of walking with God is, when we thoroughly humble ourselves, yea, when we bring ourselves down to nothing: for it is the very beginning of worshipping and glorifying God when men entertain humble and low opinion of themselves. (John Calvin.)
God’s requirements and God’s gift:—
The prophet read off rightly God’s requirements, but he had not anything to say about God’s gifts. So his word is a half-truth. The great glory of Christianity is not that it reiterates or alters God’s requirements, but that it brings into view God’s gifts. To “do justly,” &c., is only possible through repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
I. God’s requirements. In the text are the plain, elementary duties of morality and religion. It covers substantially the same ground, in a condensed form, as does the Decalogue, only that Moses begins with the deepest thing and works outwards, as it were: Micah begins at the other end, and starting with the lesser, the more external, the purely human, works his way inwards to that which is the centre and the source of all.
II. Our failure. There is not one of us that has come up to the standard. Micah’s requirements come to every man that will honestly take stock of his life and his character, as the statement of an unreached and unreachable ideal. If then it is true, that all have come short of the requirement, then there should follow a universal sense of guilt, for there is a universal fact of guilt, whether there be a sense of it or not. And there follows a hopelessness as to ever accomplishing that which is demanded of us.
III. God’s gifts. The gift of God is Jesus Christ, and that meets all our failures. What a difference the conception of God as giving—rather than requiring—makes to the spirit in which we work! What a difference it brings into what we have to do. We have not to begin with effort, we have to begin with faith. First go to the giving God. Then accept His gift. And then say, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (A. Maclaren, D.D.)
On the extent of genuine religion:—
Most commonly the Scriptures press upon us, in the first instance, that supreme and affectionate faith towards God and Christ, which is the foundation of every Christian virtue. And then proceed to inculcate those pure principles, those holy tempers, and those good works which genuine faith in God and Christ will necessarily produce. Sometimes, however, solicitous to recommend the tree by a reference to the excellence of the fruit, they specify works in the outset; and then direct our views to that faith from which every acceptable work is to spring. Love to God and our Redeemer, whether mentioned first or last, must be the fountain from which every human duty is derived. Christ is the corner-stone of the belief and the practice of a Christian. Explain the different branches of human duty according to the order in which they are arranged by the prophet.
I. “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good.” So clearly hath God made known whatever is necessary to salvation, that they who attain not salvation shall stand without excuse. In the breast of every man God hath implanted a natural conscience. And He has given us His written Word. On every man He bestows power to attain eternal life. He ensures to every faithful suppliant the all-sufficient influence of His Holy Spirit, not only that it may enlighten the mind to understand the Scriptures, but may also give grace to obey them. And He commands His ministers to preach the Gospel throughout the world to every creature. Then if you know not your duty, it is because you will not know it. If you perish through ignorance, it is because you prefer ignorance to understanding.
II. What then must we do to be saved?
1. You must do justly. You must be just in every part of every one of your proceedings. You must render to every man, cheerfully, and without delay, that which belongs to him. This rule obliges you—
(1) On all occasions to speak the truth. For a lie is not only a breach of your duty to God, but is also a breach of your duty to your neighbour.
(2) To be a faithful subject to the king: to submit to all who are entitled to authority over you.
(3) To keep from injuring the person and restraining the liberty of your neighbour.
(4) To avoid in any way injuring your neighbour’s property. And the methods in which this may be done are numberless.
2. You are to “love mercy.” Mercy signifies Christian charity in its largest sense. It includes everything which we mean by affection, benevolence, kindness, tenderness, mildness, meekness, patience, forgiveness; and by every other expression which implies goodwill to men. Observe the difference of the terms in which God requires of us first justice then mercy. We are to do justly; we are to love mercy. Justice admits of no degrees. If we are not perfectly just, we are unjust. But mercy is in its own nature capable of gradations. One person may be more merciful than another. Thou shalt love mercy then. Thy heart shall be constantly set on deeds of mercy, they shall be thy study; they shall be a delight unto thee.
3. You are to “walk humbly with God.” To walk with God signifies to be a faithful and zealous servant of God. We are to bring our whole hearts, as well as our actions, into subjection to the Divine will. Are you in prosperity? Walk humbly with your God. Let the Giver be glorified in His gifts. Are you in distress? Walk humbly with your God. Evidently then, to the Jew and to the Christian, the sum and substance of religion have ever been the same. (Thomas Gisborne, M.A.)
I. The root principle of all duty. “Do justly.” It is said that in some parts of Africa and South America certain races of men have been found with apparently no sense of justice in them, and of course no religion. It would be interesting to know how far the one is the cause or the consequence of the other. It may be said they have lost their religion, and with it all sense of justice, or, having lost all sense of justice, there is no groundwork or foundation for any religious principle to operate upon. The question comes before us in a practical shape. How are the wild creatures of our streets to be caught and tamed and domesticated; how are the principles of justice and morality to be imparted to them—in other words, how are they to be taught to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God”? In the Hebrew law God laid a foundation, in justice and morality, for the Gospel; a foundation on which He afterwards reared the superstructure of a glorious Church, whose walls are salvation, and whose gates are praise. On this common platform of justice and morality we all meet, acknowledging the law of the God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.
II. The root principle of all religion. “Love mercy.” We are not only to practise this virtue, and imitate this attribute of our Father in the heavens, but we are to “love mercy.” To love it we must see it in all its beauty and Divine perfection, and this we can only do in Jesus Christ. He is the mercy of God to us.
III. The root principle of the spiritual life. “Walk humbly with thy God.” To walk with Him humbly and reverently, as He reveals Himself in the pages of His Word, and in the person and work of His Son, is the privilege of His believing children. This humble walk with God is one of light, and joy, and triumph. The entrance is pleasant, so is the road; the company; and the end. (R. Balgarnie.)
Of the great duties of natural religion, with the ways and means of knowing them:—
In these words you have—
1. An inquiry which is the best way to appease God when He is offended.
2. The way that men are apt to take in this case.
3. The course which God Himself directs to, and which will effectually pacify Him. Dwell on this third point.
I. Those several duties which God here requires of us. The Jews reduced all the duties of religion to these three heads, justice, mercy, and piety: under the first two, comprehending the duties which we owe to one another; and under the third, the duties which we owe to God.
II. The ways and means by which God hath made known these duties to us, and the goodness and the obligation of them.
1. By a kind of natural instinct.
2. By natural reason.
3. By the general vote and consent of mankind.
4. By external revelation.
5. By the inward dictates and motions of God’s Spirit upon the minds of men. (J. Tillotson, D.D.)
The Lord’s requirements:—
I. The duties expressed by the prophet. They are most reasonable; there is nothing in them but what every enlightened mind will most cordially agree to.
1. 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 neighbour.
2. 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.
3. 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.
II. The motives furnished in the text for the discharge of these duties.
1. One motive is derived from the exhibition of the Lord’s goodness.
2. Another from the authority of the requirement.
3. Another from the nature and reasonableness of the things required. (W. D. Horwood.)
The consummate result of all education consists in the power of applying a few scientific principles. Out of one clear rule or method spring all the products of the branching and luxuriant science of figures. So the highest art and achievement of man’s life is but the flowering of one or two germinal truths. The requirements of the text are easy to understand—worth whole tons of sermons and dissertations. And yet these are precepts which are not yet made practical in the hearts of men. It is the application of the theory that is requisite. These words of the text point out the entire essence of religion—vital, evangelical religion. Some people entertain a dread of plain propositions. They do not like to have religion put in simple words; they want it left with some vagueness and complexity mingled with it. In plain words, they suspect it is only good morality. They miss the vitality of religion, as they call it. There is nothing in these words concerning terms of salvation, or faith in the atonement. But we may be sure that all the essence and vitality of religion is here. Christ is here; because who can do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with his Maker, without that communion with Christ Jesus, and that inspiration of His Spirit, by which alone we are strengthened and guided to do these things? And what an advantage there is in having such a condensed statement of religion! It clears up things; it is like getting a glimpse of a star in heaven, and taking our latitude and longitude, when we have been drifting about on the dark waves of doubt. The words of the text set forth no light affair for our performance. The essence of all right doing, right feeling, and right living is here indicated. The text expresses nothing less than all morality, all philanthropy, all religion; the essence of all vital religion, and the highest spiritual life.
1. The foundation principle of morality is involved in the precept, “Do justly.” It is a compact summary of all social duty. It abolishes all standards of mere selfish advantage and worldly policy, commanding us to do the just, the true, the righteous thing, whatever may come of it in the way of personal or temporal consequences. Be just, in thought, deed, word, hand, brain, heart. What, then, is the proper idea of justice? There is a vast difference between law and justice—between human enactments and God’s everlasting requirements. Is your idea of justice that which is merely legal? Or is it to set up your individual will, your selfish standard, regulated only by parchment laws, no matter what the spirit of civilisation or the general good demands? With others justice only means the stern thing—eye for eye, &c. But in this way a man gets a good chance to deify his own passions, and think he is doing God service. Sometimes men reverse this a very little. They manage, by some sting of reproach, or some obnoxious word, to get their revenge. They are after their revenge all the while. But justice is a merciful thing. It may be severe, it is never merciless. True justice is the justice of charity. In order to do justly we should construe the conduct of others as we would have our own conduct construed by them. The text absorbs so much of our being as is occupied in doing. “Do justly.” It is a lesson that God has set in two words, but it may take man all his life to learn it. All action should be just action.
2. A requisition which calls for all the life and power of the most genuine philanthropy “Love mercy.” Here comes in the element of feeling coupled with doing. In all good and true performances there must be affection. Out of philanthropy springs justice, as, in its highest form, that springs out of the ocean-depths of God’s love. The grandest justice in this world is that which is conceived by the spirit of an earnest, toiling humanity. For all good and noble ends we ought to love mercy. There can be no beneficent power in this world that does not spring from love. They who have the real love of mercy in them, rejoice when they can palliate. You never can lift men up, and bring them into God’s kingdom, by any other way than loving them and implicating yourself with them. And mercy is the essence of all love. If you want to love your fellowmen, have mercy on them. Loving mercy is the spring of all right feeling, as doing justly is of all right being.
3. The final requirement is to be religious—to walk humbly with thy God. Neither to be just nor merciful is the primal thing, for we cannot do so unless we come into communion with the Spirit of Almighty God. We cannot do a right thing save as we are inspired to do it. This is the very essence of all true religion—to walk humbly with, or before God. The religion of the Bible makes us walk with God. It gives us a sense of a personal relation to Him. The Bible makes God a kindred personality. We become like Him, and we obtain therefore in ourselves the real springs and powers of all good feeling and all good action. Then learn that there is something required which is more than mere exercise of the intellect—it is the surrender and sanctification of the will and the affections. A surrendering, transfiguration, regeneration of the heart that brings men into a position in which they can walk humbly with God, do justly, and love mercy. God is the inspiration of all human excellence, the quickener of all human thought; and when we can walk with Him, we do not need anything else; we can walk with Him everywhere. (E. H. Chapin.)
The last gospel of science:—
Prof. Huxley calls this verse “the perfect ideal of religion.” And he says that “the true function of science is not to set herself in antagonism to religion, but to deliver her from the heathen survivals, the bad philosophy, and the science falsely so called, which have obscured her lustre and impaired her vigour. Consider what this “perfect ideal” is, and what it involves. The prophet, whether Micah or Balaam, sums up the whole duty of man in doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. Can we accept this summary as setting forth the very substance of religion? Yes, if we are allowed to take the words of Micah in the sense in which he used them. Taken simply by themselves, indeed, and apart from their prophetic use, they postulate the existence of God, and of a God whose character is the standard and rule of the justice and mercy we are bound to show. A God, therefore, to whom we owe a constant obedience, with whom we are to walk in a living sympathy and communion, and toward whom our proper attitude is one of profound humility and devotion. What did a Hebrew prophet mean by a “just” man, if not a man who walked in all the commandments of the Hebrew law blameless? Whence did this man learn that justice must be tempered with mercy but from the self-same law? What was his standard of compassion and charity but the charity of God? Assuming the words of the text to mean only what a modern man of science would use them to mean, have you considered how much they involve; how difficult it is to apply them to the complex and often conflicting claims of human life; and how much more difficult it is to render them a living and constant obedience? Is it always easy to ascertain What “justice” demands? The fatal defect of all the ethical schemes put forward by those who reject revealed religion and yet are fain to find some substitute for it is that they take no account, or not sufficient account, of the fact and power of sin. We who believe in God and Christ contend that to men defiled and weakened by sin, only faith in God, revealed in Christ, will enable them to do their duty, and to embody the perfect ideal in their lives. (Samuel Cox, D.D.)
A great question answered:—
Without controversy the highest, noblest element in man is his moral nature, with all that the word involves. A man’s highest destiny can never be achieved if this element of his nature be neglected. To gain this end of conformity to our highest nature in moral and spiritual matters, we need to know the law of our being on this subject. The greatest practical question man can ask is, How shall I live? What shall I do to meet the highest destiny of which I am capable, both for time and eternity? This question the prophet answers. It can be answered in no other way. No man can answer it out of the depth of his own judgment. It cannot be answered by conscience, nor by expediency. The Church cannot answer it. Upon no human foundation can we build anything solid in ethics. See the completeness of the prophet’s answer.
1. The answer is practical.
2. It covers the whole ground. Two conclusions—
(1) Let us as individuals take no man’s authority in matters of duty.
(2) National security and prosperity depend upon the use and teaching of the Bible. (C. F. Anthony, D.D.)
The threefold law:—
This is the climax of an outburst of God’s rebuke and expostulation. He stoops to plead with His rebellious people. Here are two characteristics of the natural heart.
1. An insinuation that God is a hard, austere Master.
2. A readiness to yield all excepting the heart itself. Notice that these three commands are linked together. The triple command cannot be dismembered. Notice that the order is logical, not that of historical development. Justice is the root, mercy the foliage, and godliness the fruit.
I. Deal justly. There may be a noisy zeal in religion while the scant measure, the wicked balance, and the deceitful weight are used.
II. Love mercy. The whole New Testament unfolds this idea. This is to be not an occasional act, but a habit; not in exercise when under pressure, but growing from an inward impulse.
III. Walk humbly with God. Lit. it is “bow low.” Thus we feel an invisible presence and power, and have fellowship with the Unseen. Walking with God involves five particulars.
1. Choice of Him.
2. Sense of His actual presence.
5. Constant dependence. Two remarks—
(1) This verse is commonly quoted by the enemies of Christ, mere moralists. But it is one of the most searching portions of the Word, and proves that by the law no flesh is justified, for by the aw is the knowledge of sin.
(2) Those who have fled to the Cross for refuge will find in this verse a new incentive to holiness. It is by a blameless life we are to illustrate to the world the genuineness of our faith and professions of godliness. Let us not frustrate the grace of God, but lovingly heed this threefold law, that we may at once prove to ourselves, and to the world about us, that we are truly the children of God. (J. H. Worcester, D.D.)
The great question of humanity:—
Apart from revelation man can only know of God through man. And so the guess of man concerning God in any age reveals that age’s heart. The answers given to the question, “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord?” greatly differ. Through them all the desire is manifestly to atone for bygone sin. Yet when we examine the offerings of atonement which man has laid upon the seen and unseen altars of the world, we cannot help exclaiming: What were sin if gifts like these would purchase cleansing? What were man if gifts like these could give him peace? And what were God if gifts like these could call forth His forgiving love? God’s answer to the deepest question of humanity reveals God’s character. He does not behold our efforts of atonement with complacency, as though we were climbing feebly up a righteous way. God regards our offerings of atonement with exalted scorn. We have in the text a great ethical doctrine to which the heart of universal man assents without reserve. All men feel, and ever will feel, that whosoever doeth these things shall doubtless live by means of them. If a man will “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before his God,” all heavens that are worthy of the name will open wide before him. We have here a scheme of holiness in three degrees.
1. If we would stand before the High God we must “act justly.” Justly in every relation of life. And we must be just to God, “presenting our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service.”
2. We must “love mercy.” In heaven, maybe, only justice is required. On this sin-stained earth mere justice, if it stood alone, may emphasise the evils that are here. We must add mercy to our justice. A merciful man will be honoured by his fellows as long as aught of the Divine remains within humanity. Mercy is a tree whose root is pity, and its branches stretch with healing leaves and refreshing fruits above all the helpless, and suffering, and needy, of every grade and kind. Blessed are they who are merciful on earth, for they shall obtain mercy when they stand before God’s throne.
3. We must “walk humbly with God.” The more we understand the meaning of the two words “God” and “man,” the more daring seems the affirmation that they may walk together. To say that God will walk with man is to clothe God with ineffable tenderness. And to say that man can walk with God is to clothe men with sublimity. Surely the great mystery of the religious life is this, that God can walk and talk with me as though He and I were the only beings in the universe. But we must walk humbly with our God, so humbly that we shall commit all our ways to Him; so humbly that we shall never murmur at distress, knowing that all things work together for good; so humbly that we shall never worry about the things to come, remembering that “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” All sorts and conditions of men have quoted this text approvingly. But all have not quoted it with equal fairness to themselves. The man whose inward piety has not as yet transformed his outward life, is apt to slur over the words, “do justly.” The man who takes his stand upon his own integrity is apt to glide too swiftly over the words “love mercy.” The man whose faith is limited to sensuous things is apt to read only in a poetic way the words “walk humbly with thy God.” Refrain from doing justly, and the love of mercy soon will pass away. Refrain from doing justly, and from loving mercy, and the consciousness of the Omnipresent God will fade. And refrain from walking humbly with the Lord, and the love of mercy and desire for justice soon will disappear. All have not quoted this text with equal fairness to the evangelical faith. One can safely challenge the world to produce a single man who has fulfilled the whole of this counsel, apart from the shed blood and broken body of our Lord. (J. Moffat Logan.)
Religion and religionism:—
These words express the true object of all revelation, which is to make men good; they express the inmost meaning of all life, which is the attainment of holiness. Unmistakable in their plainness, these words sweep away the cobwebs of confusion of ages. Frankly accepted, they would be an eternal cure for all the maladies which in age after age have afflicted religion. They show that the aim of religion is to elevate character, to purify conduct, to promote goodness; they sum up the mighty spiritual teaching of the prophets; they herald the essential moral revelation of the Son of God. The word “religion” properly means certain opinions, and certain ordinances; a set of doctrines; or a mode of worship. Now, outward ordinances, when their importance is exaggerated, tend to become burdensome and superstitious; and religious opinions, when maintained by ambition and self-interest, have deluged the world with crime. To avoid confusion, however, I will call this “religionism,” not “religion.” A stream of religionism flows through the Old Testament. The Judaic code has neither value nor significance in itself, but solely in so far as it may be a help or adjunct to higher things. Religionism, when it ends in opinions or observances, is worthless. All that was poorest and most pagan in Judaism eagerly seized on this element in the sacred books. Side by side with this stream of religious ordinance flows, through most of the Old Testament, and through all the New, the richer, purer, deeper stream of righteousness. And righteousness expresses, and alone expresses, the essence of true religion; for true religion is a good mind and a good life. Ask a dogmatist “What must I do to be saved?” and he will give you some elaborate metaphysical definition. Ask a party religionist, and he will say that you must hear the Church. Ask your Lord and Master, and He will say, “If thou wouldest enter into life, keep the commandments”. See how the prophets spoke; the New Testament so completely endorses their spiritual ideal that, while every page and verse of it breathes of righteousness, you scarcely find any religionism at all, scarcely any organisation, ritual, or dogmatic creed. What is the sum total of the moral revelation of Christ? It goes into two words—Love: Serve. The teaching of every one of His apostles was the very antithesis of the spirit of externalism. According to them, “he that doeth righteousness is born of God.” To preach these principles is to preach the very essential heart of the scriptural morality; but yet it is a preaching that invariably makes religionists very angry. For its importance lies in this, that it is the very touchstone which discriminates between true and false religion, and which sweeps away, at any rate, the exaggerated importance attached to the adjuncts, the scaffoldings, the traditions and ordinances of men, which to so many make up the whole of their religion. What God wants is not so-called orthodoxy, but “truth in the inward parts.” What will avail you is not any amount of religiosity, but righteousness. The reason why it is necessary to insist on this is that eternal pharisaism of the human heart, which prefers formalism to spirituality, and which causes a constant recrudescence of Judaism in the heart of Christianity. The lesson for us is clear. Our religious opinions may be false; our party shibboleths may be but the blurred echoes of our ignorance or our incompetence; our private interpretations of Scripture may be no better than grotesque nonsense in their presumptuous falsity, and all this may not greatly matter, if by some Divine deliverance from our opinionated follies, we still do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. (Dean Farrar.)
The essentials of religion:—
It is a great thing to get down to simple principles. One of the hopeful signs of our times is a growing disposition to do this. In science and in theology alike, we are recognising simplicity where we once imagined that there was wonderful complexity. I rejoice that, in theology, we are getting down to fundamental Christian truths, which will ultimately make more clear man’s duties and God’s love. This was, in part, the mission of Christianity. God’s Temple of Truth could hardly be seen for the human rubbish which had accumulated about it, and Jesus Christ came to sweep it away. You remember how He did so. His Sermon on the Mount must have amazed all His hearers. It went down to the very roots of human life and duty, and was a fresh revelation of truth. His disciples followed in His footsteps. Even St. Paul, who was by far the most subtle-minded of them, analysed Christianity, and showed that it consisted in three things—“faith, hope, love,”—and finally he reduced even these to one, saying, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” The fact is, that the nearer men are to God, the simpler becomes their religious life and their religious thought. Look at this text. “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good.” Micah could fairly say this to every one in Israel; but much more forcibly should the words come home to us, who have heard the teaching and known the life of Jesus, Son of God, and yet Son of Man.
I. What does the Lord require of thee but to “do justly”? The reference of the prophet is to justice between man and man, which was but seldom seen in his day. Happily, our law courts are, on the whole, among our noblest institutions. But how about business affairs? What of the conflicts between capital and labour? Is all as it should be there?
II. The second requirement is to “love mercy.” The philanthropist in the Church may be the screw in business. To do justly is to do what right requires, and to love mercy is to do what love requires.
III. The last requirement is walk humbly with thy God. This is not the top-stone of the edifice, but its foundation. Walk humbly with God, and you will walk honestly and kindly among your neighbours. (Alfred Rowland, LL.B., B.A.)
The essentials of a religious life:—
They have always been the same. Our Lord has really added nothing to these words of Micah. What He has done has been to put these truths in a new setting, to read them with a wider and deeper application; to embody them in His own life, and thus to enforce them with greater authority; to give us a new motive for obedience, and greater power to obey. What does the Cross say to us but “do justly,” “love mercy,” and “walk humbly”? The essentials of a religious life are practical rather than theoretical. It appears that the Jews of Micah’s time were most anxious about the right form of worship. Yet, what does Micah declare to have been the common life of these people? He takes us into their houses, and shows them to be full of dishonest gains. He takes us into their shops, and shows us the scant measure, the short weights, the false balances. Into their law courts, and we find the judge selling his verdict for a bribe. Right through society there was the same hollow deception. “The inhabitants have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouths.” So the prophet has to tell them this, It is not a question of right worship for you, but of right conduct. Not how you should sacrifice, but how you should live. There are certain duties necessary because God has commanded them, and there are other duties which God commands because they are necessary. There are two ways in which men, nowadays, make too much of the non-essentials of religion. There is the ritualist, who exaggerates the importance of ceremonial. We become ritualists of a sort when we think the claims of God are met by coming to services and meetings regularly. The essence of religion is not in those agreeable emotions you feel in listening to a stirring sermon. It lies in honest dealing, in kind actions, in that humble, obedient spirit which springs from a realisation of the presence of God. Its sphere is principally not in the Church, but outside—in the world and in the home. The time and place in which to show that you are religious men and women is when you start upon your work in the morning, when you buy and when you sell, when you spend an hour in recreation, quite as much as when you pray or when you teach. Another way in which some make too much of the non-essentials of religion is on the side of doctrine. Men speak as if they wanted all difficult questions settled out of hand before they will become the servants of God. There are difficulties in the Bible, but they belong to the intellect, and not to the practical life. We need not underestimate the importance of evangelical doctrine, but unless the doctrines of grace bear practical results, it is doubtful whether we are truly acquainted with them. These are the essential things—
1. “Do justly.”
(1) There is a justice of which the civil law is the guardian.
(2) A justice of which custom is the guardian.
(3) The only justice which will satisfy God is that of which conscience is the guardian. This will teach the thief to make restitution; this will not truckle to underhand tricks; this will respect the claims of others even when it is most seeking to advance its own.
2. “Love mercy.” Many fail here. They are as upright as a marble column, and as cold and hard. The instincts of our better nature should teach us to be merciful. God urges us to show mercy one to another on the ground that we are all debtors alike to Him.
3. “Walk humbly with thy God.” Many so-called moral men, and kind men, are nevertheless godless men. What is it to lead a godless life? It is to spend the life apart from God. This is the essence of all religious life, making God a reality, and acting as in His presence. (Frank Hall.)
The three great human duties:—
Misconceptions of the truth are as dangerous as the reception of falsehood. This text is one by which proud, self-sufficient, and ungodly mortals are accustomed to lull their consciences to sleep, and their guilty fears to rest, saying, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” They say, “that if a man do the best he can, God will require no more.”
I. What is it to do justly?
1. Is it not to keep a just weight, and a just measure; to be true and just in all your dealings?
2. To do justly, there must be no extortion, no speculation, no forestalling, no monopoly, no oppression.
3. The just man hates every false way; he keeps far from a false matter; he raises no false report; he is no false accuser, takes no false oath, bears no false report.
4. If you do justly, it will be by your God as well as by your neighbour. If just towards God, you will have “respect unto all His commandments.” You will justify all the gracious dispensations of heaven. Can you bless God for your creation so long as you make, not God, but self, the end of your creation? Can you say that you justly bless God for your preservation so long as you do not bless Him for your salvation? It is impossible that you can justly bless God for the inestimable gift of His dear Son while you refuse to hear Him. If you are just with God, you will be constant in your attendance in His house—the place where His honour dwelleth.
II. What is it to love mercy?
1. If you love mercy, you will “break off your sins by righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.”
2. You will be merciful in all your intercourse with mankind.
3. If you love mercy, and show it to others, you will crave it for yourself.
4. If you love mercy, your walks will be walks of mercy, your visits will be visits of mercy, and your inquiries will be inquiries of mercy.
III. What is it to walk humbly with God?
1. If you do, you will be of a teachable spirit.
2. You will have a mean opinion of yourself.
3. You will not be carried away with high-sounding words in sermons or in prayers: you will love the plain, homely, honest truth.
4. If you walk humbly with God, you will walk humbly before Him.
5. You will walk humbly with Him in secret; your humility will not be a mere show of humility.
6. If you walk with your God, you will walk much with His dear Son.
7. You will enjoy much of His presence, the lifting up of the light of His countenance.
8. You will neither hide the talents He has committed to your charge in a napkin, nor lock up His kindnesses in your bosom, but will make known His goodness to the sons of men. Thankfulness will ever dwell with humility. (John Clementson.)
God’s great demonstrations and demands:—
“Do justly.” There is a justice of expiation, to break off our sins by repentance. A justice of compensation, by meet repairing our public injuries. A justice of vindication, to confirm our laws by inflicting such just penalties and restraints as some men’s insolvencies have deserved. There is the allay of mercy, or moderation, compassion, and tenderness, by way of pardon, indemnity and oblivion. There is added the root and crown of all virtues and graces, humility; which makes you surest of God’s acceptation and benediction. Humility is the salt that must be mingled with every sacrifice; a sweet perfume that must attend every oblation. It is the glory of all human and Divine perfections; the security of justice, and the sanctuary of mercy. If you intend to walk with God, and hope that God will go along with you, you must not only deny, you must so far utterly renounce, and annihilate yourselves, as not to trust in or seek yourselves, but the living God.
I. The Demonstrator or Shewer. “The Lord.”
1. The rise or occasion of this demonstration. Find this in verses 6, 7. Observe the vaunting questions and presumptuous postulations of a company of formal hypocrites.
2. The credit and authority of this Demonstrator, which makes His words, both for the truth and goodness of them, most worthy to be believed, received, and obeyed. He is the great and inexhaustible fountain of all power and order, natural, civil, spiritual. He is not more able by His wisdom, than willing by His indulgence and love, to instruct mankind in the way that is best for him. He has showed us the most infallible and immutable rules of justice, mercy, and humility.
II. The thing demonstrated. Denoted under three grand heads—
1. Consider justice, mercy, and humility together, and conjointly. Note the sanctity of these grand demands. The shortness of the discourse concerning them. Their perspicuity, though stated so briefly. The order and situation of the particulars. Justice comes first; then mercy; and then humility. The juncture of these three is inobservable, because they are inseparable where they are sincere. The common epithet, or predicate, to all of them. “The Lord hath showed thee what is good.”
2. Consider them separately.
(1) In the subject or substance, spirit and quintessence, of each of them. What is justice? Some measure it by their power; others by their wills; yet others by their fancies and imaginations. Some measure justice by necessity; some measure justice by forcible power and possession; as if might were right. Justice must be considered, in its fountain and original, the wisdom and will of God; in the grand cistern and conservatory, which is the sovereign and legislative power in every society and polity. Justice is considerable in the pipes and conduits of all subordinate magistrates. There is a justice due to God, to ourselves, and to others. What is mercy? By mercy God is, as it were, greater than Himself: a denier of Himself, and a sider with our interests. All our hopes and happiness are founded upon, and bound up in, the mercy of God. Mercy in God is a perfection of goodness, by which He moderates the severity of His justice toward sinful mankind. Mercy in man is an affection by which he lays to heart the misery of another, and is disposed to relieve them. Mercy is an inseparable attendant to human justice; yea, and to the Divine. Penitents are the proper objects of mercy. There are but few cases wherein the summum jus is required. In most cases there is possibility of remission, and moderation. What is humility? It is a most Christian grace, no less than a most manly virtue, becoming all men,—in the sense of their common infirmities, and mortal condition; in the conscience of their many sins and deserved miseries; in the reflection upon their best actions, full of failings and defects. Pride, destroys and sours all the good, even of justice and mercy, that any man doth. Pride hath its reward only from itself, or the vain world. Consider the predicates or actions applied to each of these three terms. Consider justice—
1. Materially, as to the merit of the cause or person.
2. Regularly, as to the law prescribed by God or man, not by private opinion.
3. Authoritatively, by due order and commission, derived to thee from the lawful supreme power. Do justice as to the inward form, principle, or conscience, for justice sake, not for ambition. Do justice in practice; impartially, speedily, in due measure and proportion, with humanity and compassion to the person. “Love mercy.” Observe the order; justice must be done before mercy. It is presumptuous to do unjustly under pretence of showing mercy. Observe the emphasis of the word “love” put to mercy. Justice must be done as a task enjoined. Mercy must be loved and delighted in. This love is conjoined to mercy as a thing in itself most desirable, as most beneficial to ourselves and others, as obedience to God’s commands, and in imitation of the Divine perfections. Love mercy for the advance of all graces; as the best sign of the best religion, remembering that sin exposeth thee to misery; in order to confirm thy hope, and increase thy reward in glory. “Walk humbly.” Be ready and prepared to go with God. The words imply a freedom and familiarity of conversation which cannot be without two are agreed; nor can there be agreement with God, except where the heart is humble. Walking is a social and friendly notion, and it is progressive and parallel, in a way of confirmity, not contrariety. The more a man walks with God, the more he will grow in humility.
3. To whom God shows, and of whom He requires, these great lessons and duties. “Thee, O man.”
(1) All mankind.
(2) Those who enjoy the light of God’s Word.
(3) Each in His particular station.
4. The manner of God’s showing and requiring these duties of all sorts of men, in all occasions, times, and dealings. God hath showed it to mankind in those inward Principles of right reason, and that standard of justice which is set up in each man’s own heart. By the letters patent of the Holy Scriptures. By the greatest exemplars of holy men in all degrees. With frequent obtestation, threatening punishment. (John Gauden, D.D.)
God’s claims on man:—
1. Has God any claims upon you? Has He a right to require anything of you, if it should seem good to Him to do so?
2. Does He exercise this right? Has He actually required anything? In the Bible you find God everywhere speaking imperatively to His creatures, giving them not merely counsels, but authoritative counsels and commands.
3. What are the claims which God asserts? What doth the Lord require of thee? Thy supreme love, thy choicest affections, thy whole heart, and whatever else such a love disposes to and draws after it. God has given rules for the regulation not only of our external conduct, and all of it, but of our speech, our thoughts, our motives, our principles of action, and of all the various modifications of feeling.
4. What is the character of these claims of God?
(1) They are reasonable. Their reasonableness may be inferred from their reality. God is incapable of making an unreasonable demand.
(2) They are particular. They are made on you as an individual, and not in any social capacity. God addresses His commands singly to each one.
(3) His claims are paramount. In every comparison they deserve to have the pre-eminence; in every competition the preference.
(4) His claims are impartial. God asserts them with respect to every intelligent being, and with respect to each the same.
(5) His claims are unalterable. We may change, but not they. Our duty is the same, whatever our character. God cannot lower His demands to adapt them to our inclinations or disabilities. Then how have we treated His claims? Have we done as He has required? Remember, there is a penalty threatened on him who disregards them. The claims of justice are prior to the claims of mercy. You ought to comply with His explicit and authoritative claims upon you. And you ought to comply at once, and fully. (W. Nevins, D.D.)
The requirements of the Gospel:—
There have been considerable disputes in those countries where the Scriptures were unknown with regard to man’s chief or sovereign good. Religion is man’s chief good. It is good in its origin; it cometh down from the Father of lights; it is good in its nature; it is good in its tendency and in its end. It is man’s chief good. There is nothing in it but what is most fit and proper and suitable to man, whether considered in himself, or in his relation to God or to His fellow-creatures. Religion is a satisfying good. It possesses the power of healing all the various disorders of the human mind and heart; the power to console, comfort, exhilarate, and delight the redeemed spirit of man, in all the circumstances through which, in the providence of God, he may be called to pass in this world. It is a universal good, not restricted to any class of persons, to the persons of any one age, or country, or locality. It is an everlasting good; as vast as the necessities and capacities of the human spirit. The table of the law which instructs us in our duty to God is generally the first presented to us in Scripture. In the text the order is reversed. It is required that every man do justly to his fellow-man. We are required to act with the exactest integrity and uprightness towards our fellow-creatures in all respects, and towards every one of our fellow-creatures. Keep the Golden Rule. But we are not to do justice strictly; we are also to love mercy. Mercy is ever ready to listen to complaints, to relieve wants, to pardon offences, to cover faults. Mercy delights to imitate the Father of mercies; to do good, according to its power, to all mankind, under all circumstances. There must not only be merciful conduct and language, but a merciful heart within us. “Walk humbly with thy God.” This means at least three things—reconciliation, affection, and intercourse.
1. Reconciliation. Two cannot walk together except they be agreed. There are three classes of persons with whom God can never be agreed. The immoral, the unbeliever, and the worldly minded.
2. Affection. All God’s people love Him. And we know that God loves His people.
3. Intercourse. The intercourse between God and His people is as real as any intercourse is which takes place between any spirits in heaven, or any interchange of thought and of kindness which takes place between men on earth. Humility is essential to walking with God. The margin reads, “and to humble thyself to walk with thy God.” Before any of us can walk with God we must be humbled under His mighty hand; and the more deeply and thoroughly we humble ourselves, the more closely we shall walk with God. I speak not of that humility which is woven into the character by artifice and cunning; but of that humility which is wrought in the inmost soul by the finger of God. There are two doctrinal heresies against which our text is opposed.
1. The heresy of those who seek to be justified by works.
2. The heresy of those who think to be justified by a faith which is a mere sentiment, and never does any works. (V. Ward.)
The inner meaning of the Divine requirements:—
These words have often been quoted with respectful admiration by persons who look upon what they suppose to be the theology of the Bible with indifference or contempt. The philosopher and the philanthropist are to be invited to extricate these great maxims from the overlying mass, to give them the prominence which has been given to those dogmas which are so intricate, and which lead to evil results or to none. Most cheerfully do I take these words of the prophet as my guide; they are worthy of all the honour which has been paid them. To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly,—does God indeed require all this of me? If I may not learn how I can be just and merciful and humble, to assure me that I am bound to be so is an intolerable oppression. Men have felt this at all times; they are feeling it now. And the feeling, though it is mixed with much contradiction, is not a false one. They would have a right to complain of us, and of the Bible, if we came and delivered to them a set of precepts—the best precepts in the world—and did not tell them whence they were to derive the strength for obeying the precepts. Our morality must have some deep underground basis to rest upon. What is that basis? I answer, you must seek it in that very theology of the Bible which you have supposed it so great a deliverance to cast aside. There, and there only, will you find the protection against the narrow, local, artificial dogmas of priests, and the dry, hard, scarcely less artificial, often even more heartless, dogmas of philosophers. There you will find the protection against the flimsy, conventional morality of classes and ages; there you will find a meaning for the words, “Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly,” and a power to translate them from words into life.
1. The Lord requires thee to “do justly.” The whole question of the ground of moral obligation is raised by this sentence. It seems to tell me that some One is commanding a certain course of action which I am bound to follow because He commands it. And this course of action is described by the phrase “doing justly.” Is justice, then, nothing in itself? Are actions made right because a certain power insists that they shall be performed? The main controversy between the mere priest and the mere philosopher, so far as it bears on human conduct, lies here. The one has always been tempted to maintain that an omnipotent decree makes that good which would not be good without it, makes that evil which would be otherwise indifferent: the other has been always seeking to find what constitutes an action or a habit just or unjust, true or untrue; whether something in its own nature, or in its effect upon the individual doer, or in its influence upon society. The conscience in men cries out for a ruler; therefore it gives heed to the priest. Conscience exists only in the affirmation that right and wrong are eternally opposed; therefore it gives heed to the philosophers. Experience shows that the priest is very prone to raise maxims of temporary expedience to the level of eternal laws; therefore the conscience protests against him. Experience shows that the philosopher can find no standing-ground from which he can act upon individuals or society, but is obliged to beg a standing-ground from their opinion, or to erect his own above both; therefore the conscience protests against him. Then comes the message: “He hath shown thee, O man, what is good.” A message from whom? If He has not told me what He is, the tidings are worth nothing, the good has not been shown. If you desire a universal morality, there must be the revelation of a moral Being. If you would have the command “do justly,” in place of a weight of rules, observances, and ceremonies, you must have justice set before you, not in words, formulas, decrees, but livingly, personally, historically. You must be taught what the just Being is by seeing what He does what He does for you. He would have you like Him. He must tell you how He makes you like Him. The Bible is not a book of mere moralities. It would be if you took away its theology. Its theology is the unveiling of the righteous Being to the heart and conscience of the only creature that is capable of being righteous, because of the only creature that is capable of departing from righteousness. It is at last the manifestation to all nations of that original righteousness which had been the root of all righteousness in them; the manifestation of the Divine righteousness in a Man, who came into the world to reconcile men to His Father, that they might receive His Spirit, and be able to be just, as He is,—to do justly, as He does.
2. The Lord requires of men to “love mercy.” This is a higher obligation still—harder to fulfil. I may do things, but against my whole nature. They will not be just or righteous acts, according to the scriptural idea of righteousness, which supposes the man to be good before he does good things. But they may be just according to some legal, philosophical, or sacerdotal rule. Can such a rule explain how I am to love because it is desirable that I should? Mercy is, no doubt, a beautiful quality. But there is a limit to men’s admiration. If mercy meets an unmerciful habit of mind in us, its works will be explained away. Mercy is not necessarily loved when it is exhibited in its fullest, most perfect form, when it shows itself in the most gracious and serviceable acts. There may be a cry for it on another ground. Men may feel that they resisted the Divine righteousness, that they are at war with it. They may invoke mercy to avert the punishment which they believe that righteousness desires to inflict upon them. Turn to the theology of the Bible. There Christ is set forth as the image of the Father, not in one quality, but in His whole character. He is said to show forth the righteousness of God in the forgiveness of sins. Man wants mercy because he has sinned, but this mercy has in it a power of putting away sin, of covering it, extinguishing it,—of transforming the creature, who was the subject and slave of it, into a new creature who can love mercy and do justly.
3. The Lord requires man to “walk humbly with Him.” About this virtue of humility there is as much strife as about justice and mercy. Can it be intended that the man should think meanly of the nature and the powers which God has given him? The more nobly he judges of his humanity, the more noble, says the philosopher, he himself will be. It is most true that, if we try by any artificial methods to cultivate what is called the grace of humility, it may become actually another name for meanness, for the abandonment of manliness and dignity, for a nominal self-denial which is compatible with much inward self-exaltation. What is the true humility? We are humble in ourselves only when we are walking with God. It is this which lays a man in the dust. It is this which raises him to a height he had never dreamt of. The theology of the Bible, then, explains its morality. It enables us to know what we ought to be, and to be what we would wish to be. (F. D. Maurice, M.A.)
What doth the Lord require of thee?—
The text contains three points for our self-examination. The Lord requires, first, that we “do justly”; in other words, that all our conduct be upright and faithful, that we “defraud not any,” and that we always “do unto others as we would they should do unto us.” The second requirement is, “to love mercy.” To be just, strictly just, honest, upright, is indeed something, but it is not all. A man may be very honest, and yet very selfish; indeed, justice and mercy are somewhat antagonistic virtues, and are not often found existing together. The man who prides himself upon his integrity not unfrequently makes it an excuse for uncharitableness. The more highly, then, any one prides himself upon his justice, the more reason he has to examine himself on the point of mercy. Are you always tender-hearted,—ready to forgive,—treating others with due consideration and kindness, and putting the most charitable construction on all their actions? It is required of us not merely to show mercy, but to love mercy; to take positive delight in doing good. The third requirement is, to “walk humbly with thy God.” This implies something more than the absence of pride. What is it to “walk with God”? There is implied in the expression a unity of mind and will, a holy communion and fellowship with God, such as those are very far from even dreaming of, who content themselves with doing justly and loving mercy. Where shall we find this unity save in those who humbly inquire what God’s mind is, and who seek to know and do His will? The text is literally, as margin, “Humble thyself to walk with thy God.” Sinful man is naturally too proud to walk with God; he would rather be altogether independent and walk by himself. When by the grace of God he has been humbled and brought low, then he finds that to walk with God is his highest honour and present joy. Our text, which at first seemed but an epitome of the law, is seen to contain the Gospel. (W. E. Light, M.A.)
The requirements of God:—
I. To do justly. To act, speak, and to strive to think, fairly, honestly, towards all men. Not to suffer feelings, interest, passions, or prejudices to influence us. (See for Scripture counsels and commands, Deut. 16:19, 20; Ps. 82:3, 4; Exod. 23:3, 8; Lev. 19:33, 34, 35, 36; Prov. 20:14; Lev. 19:11; Exod. 23:1.) Notice that we are bidden to do justly, but not commanded always to exact justice, or our strict rights from others.
II. Love mercy. The doing of strict justice is sometimes most painful, but the work of mercy is ever a labour of love. The Christian learns, more and more, how much he is indebted to mercy; and hence he loves mercy with thankful love, and the work of mercy is to him the work of gratitude. The Bible has beautiful precepts on this subject (Deut. 22:1–4; Exod. 23:4–5; Matt. 5:44; Rom. 12:20, 21). The poor are especial objects of God’s mercy (Deut. 15:11; 24:10–13). The merciful will not be too sharp in gathering for himself all he can, nor in insisting on every right which man’s law gives him, if that right bear hardly on his neighbour (Deut. 24:19–21; Jas. 2:13). Mercy is to be shown in sympathy (Rom. 12:15; Luke 23:34).
III. Walk humbly with thy God. The humblest thing a man can do is to accept Christ. The next is to depend simply and entirely on God the Holy Ghost for strength to do just, grace to love mercy, and to walk humbly. To walk humbly is to have a constant sense of our sinfulness—God’s holiness; our weakness—God’s all might; our folly and ignorance—God’s wisdom, truth, and love. It is to acknowledge God in prosperity (Deut. 8:12, &c.). It is to acknowledge God in adversity (1 Pet. 5:6; Isa. 57:15). (F. J. Scott, M.A.)
The sum of God’s requirements:—
These words are the answer of the Almighty, by the mouth of His prophet, to the cry of one of old, whose difficulties in his religious course appeared too great for him. God demands from him no impossible service—no countless sacrifices, no rivers of oil; He but bids him walk in the way in which all may walk who will—the paths of justice, mercy, and humility. The very terms in which the requirement is made imply that the work is far from an impracticable one. God speaks in mercy and tenderness. Upon the ease with which His precepts may be obeyed He founds a claim, surely a most touching and irresistible claim, to obedience. Was the doing justly, loving mercy, and walking with God a thing practicable for the few,—living in the dawn only of the day-spring; and can it be impossible for you, the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus—you, upon whom the Sun of Righteousness hath risen in all His glory? God never set a man any work which he could not perform. He never yet bade His servant to do His will, and withheld from him the power of doing it. If you ask how a man, awakened to a sense of religion, may set himself to do the will of God, you must bear in mind the twofold principle of pure grace and free-will. You must never lose sight of your own utter inability to do anything of yourselves apart from the grace and power of God. If we would work the works of God it must be in the might of God. But you must not rest satisfied with praying for grace; you must not relax in your own exertions to serve and obey God. When we think how great a task is set before us we may well rejoice that we have many promises that it is not an impossible one. We should see that the seeming impossibilities had been all of our own imagining. Though we are never to remit our watchfulness, nor to forget our danger of again falling into sin, if we be true to God, we shall find each additional act of self-sacrifice made in obedience to His will a source of peace and comfort to us. (G. W. Brameld.)
Here is the summing up of the law; these are the things which, if a man do, he shall live by them. Seldom does a sinner come to Christ who has not first attempted to work out his own salvation by keeping the law, who has not resolved in his own strength not to sin again, but to walk blameless. If he strive honestly and deal faithfully with himself, it will not be long before he will despair of success in his undertaking. This is quite beyond us, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and mind, and soul, and strength.” And yet no man can enter the pearly gates who does not thus love his God. Is God’s, then, an unjust requirement? Surely it is the one object of all human law to compel man to do justly. Would society, culture, civilisation, anything that is worth living for, be possible if all men refused to be just? Is it, then, unreasonable for God to command us to do justly? Is it too hard to require us to love mercy? Is this not felt instinctively to be one of the noblest traits of character, and do we not admire the exercise of it? If all men were strictly just to each other, humanly speaking, there would be little need of mercy; but realising that we need mercy ourselves, is it too much that we should be required to grant it to others? And the third requirement is surely no heavy or excessive burden laid upon us. “Do justly.” That is the foundation virtue, without which you can rear no superstructure of noble character. A man who has no sense of justice is utterly lost to all good influences, and, labour as you may, nothing can be made out of him. One’s sense of justice may be perverted, and needs to be rightly educated; but it must be there, else there can be only vileness and corruption. Primarily, justice means erectness, uprightness, being swayed neither to the right nor to the left by all the influences that can be brought to bear upon the life.
1. We must be just to ourselves; and we can do this only by giving any faculty of our nature its due authority and influence in governing our conduct. There are three motors in us which govern the executive will—passion, self-love, and conscience, and these are far from agreeing with each other. Our entire lives are frequently one long battle between them. Justice requires that all passions and appetites should be subordinate to self-love, which bids us regard the consequences to ourselves of what we do. Not selfishness, but self-love, which, in its proper place, is a noble faculty But above self-love sits the supreme ruler conscience, whose one great utterance, “Duty,” is the grandest word in any language; which shows to passion the baseness of sacrificing all else to present gratification, as well as the injury that results; and which tells self-love of higher and grander aims than personal advantage. If you are just to all that is best and truest in your own characters you will not be unjust to others. If you have not been thus just to yourselves, there is no hope for you save in Christ.
2. We must be just to our fellow-men. Just before charitable and merciful. Men are ready to do anything, and to give liberally, if only they can avoid doing justly. There can be no mercy shown by one who is not just. A little more justice in the world would do away with the necessity for much almsgiving. Justice consists in giving to each action its proper reward, neither adding thereto from partiality, nor taking therefrom from envy and hatred. Then be perfectly upright, bending neither to the side of weak dislike to inflict suffering, nor to the side of angry desire for vengeance, and showing no respect of persons. And never ask more than justice from others. Do justly to those about you in estimating their conduct towards you, and especially in judging of their motives. You may be restfully sure that God will always—and in His gracious redemption most certainly of all—do justly. (T. T. Eaton, D.D., LL.D.)
The justice of one man towards another:—
There are in religion things that are of a mutable and alterable nature, and things that are immutable and unchangeable. Whatsoever is by institution may, by the same authority that imposed it, be discharged and abated. The things mentioned in this text continue to all perpetuity. About these things all persons agree, that are of any education and improvement. Single out for treatment this righteousness between man and man—to “do justly.” There is a difference between justice and equity. Equity takes into account the circumstances of a case, grants allowances, and can moderate the rigour of law. There is no one but expects this measure from God when he makes application to Him. God considers and deals with us in a way of mercy and compassion. And we should deal so with one another. This is true liberty and perfection for a man, to have power over his own right, so as to compassionate and commiserate in case of weakness and offence. It is greatness of power to be able to do this; and it is goodness of mind to perform it. Therefore let “just” and “equal” be so stated that that shall be just which appears to be either according to law or according to reason. Right is determined either by the proprietors, or by the magistrate, or by the voluntary agreement of persons that have power and interest. In commerce, custom and usage is to be heeded, for these began by consent. A man may be unjust from the nature of the thing, as well as by the breach of any law or constitution. He is equal—as differing from just—who considers all things that are reasonable, and makes allowance accordingly. There is a third thing beyond these, and that is to be gracious and merciful. God deals with us usually, but we deal thus with one another very rarely. The following are reasons why we should take this whole temper of mind into consideration, and put it into practice.
1. It is the temper of God.
2. It is everybody’s tenure and security. Where justice and equity do not get place there will be nothing but fraud, and everybody will be insecure.
3. These things do uphold the world, which otherwise would soon fall into confusion.
4. It is according to our principles; we are made to these things.
5. It is the right in every case. A man’s greatest wisdom is seen in finding that out, and his goodness in complying with it.
6. They are the rule and law of all action.
7. Everybody expects to be thus dealt with by others. That which is expected from another should be the measure of my dealing with him.
8. If we keep to the rule of right and fit we shall be justified whenever called to examination. Punishment is for the upholding of right, or it is exemplary that others, by a bad example, may learn not to offend. To live in the practice of justice and equity, will remove all suspicion of arbitrariness or self-will, will give a man heart’s ease and satisfaction, and will render a man acceptable to God. There are several things which every man must take care of that would be found in the practice of justice and equity.
1. Let a man be wary of self-interest.
2. Let no man allow himself to be arbitrary in a thing depending between himself and another.
3. Let not a man take upon him to be judge where he is a party.
4. Be always ready to any fair reference.
5. As thou art a Christian, yield more in fair consideration towards a friendly composure than absolute reason will oblige to and enjoin.
6. Let nothing rest upon secret and undeclared trust; leave nothing half done.
7. Make a simple reparation in case of wrong.
8. Be a plain and open dealer.
9. Make the same allowance for the infirmity and mistakes of others as thou dost desire for thyself.
10. In acknowledgment of what Christ hath done for thee, be thou equal, just, and righteous, beyond “what absolute reason or strict right may enjoin. (B. Whichcote, D.D.)
Justice and mercy:—
These words, written so many hundred years ago, come home to our hearts as freshly as if they had been spoken yesterday. We also have been shown what is good, and we also should admit that no better description could be given of the goodness which our hearts recognise than “to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.” Of course, it is true that through the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ we have a clearer knowledge of God’s nature, and so a deeper insight into what He requires of us, than the people to whom Micah spoke. No modern equivalent of burnt-offering or calves of a year old, not thousands of rams or ten thousands of rivers of oil, no gift of churches, or communion-plate, or musical instruments, or stained-glass windows, no, not even subscription to charity—nothing is good in the sight of God unless it carries with it the good will, the will to do justice and mercy. For to-day I do not propose to consider with you the abstract question as to what justice is, a question first asked in one of the most fascinating books in the world, The Republic of Plato, and often enough asked since. I propose to follow the Jewish prophet in assuming that we have all been instructed in the Divine law, so that the great names of justice and mercy have a meaning to us, whether we can put that meaning into words or not. Assuming that, I wish to call your attention briefly to the necessary moral qualities which underlie the practice of these Christian virtues. The moral qualities necessary for all who aim at being just and merciful are three—courage, patience, sympathy.
1. Courage. Courage is plainly necessary; for what can it profit us to see the right course to take, if, through faint-heartedness, we are unable to take it? No one can be just or merciful who cannot take his own line; who has not, as we say, “the courage of his opinions.”
2. And then, patience—that is necessary. How much injustice in the world comes about because people will not take the trouble to investigate the case before them. In the abstract, in intention everybody is anxious to be just; everybody is eager to be merciful. But, unfortunately for us, the world is not an abstract world. It is very concrete, and it presents particular cases for the exercise of our virtue, and so our good intention counts for so little. If action on a great scale were required of us, we should all give a judgment that would be admirably just. But unfortunately, the decisions that are asked for from day to day are trifling decisions on everyday matters, and, in every instance, to come at the true facts of the case means spending time, means going into worrying details, and there is so much else to be done of so much importance. And so we become unjust, just for want of patience.
3. And then the man who would be just or merciful must have the power of putting himself in the place of another, and seeing the matter in all its circumstances from another’s point of view; and that means that he must have a real interest in other people for their own sakes, and be able to understand them, and be able to see why they did what they did. Would it be too much to say that no one can be either just or merciful to those whom he does not love? I said that these three qualities of courage, patience, and sympathy are necessary, whether the work that we have to do is an act of justice or an act of mercy. And you will see that it is so when you recollect that that common distinction between justice and mercy is merely a practical distinction necessary for human infirmity, but not a distinction that goes down to the root of action. We might illustrate from any trial for murder. In a case of that sort we should consider that it was the province of justice to concern itself with the bare account of the crime alleged, and if that were proved sentence would be passed. And then it would be considered the part of mercy to come in and weigh the extenuating circumstances, and modify the sentence accordingly. But if justice means giving to every one his due, clearly mercy is still more due to the criminal than what we called first justice. The extenuating circumstances are a very real part of the action. Or again, suppose that some one in our employment has abused our confidence. A clerk has stolen money to pay his gambling debts. Well, his employer, if he were a just man, in deciding whether to prosecute his clerk or not to prosecute him, would decide on the whole circumstances, and he would do what he thought best in the interests of the clerk. If he thought imprisonment likely to have the most salutary effect on the man’s character he would prosecute, and in that case prosecution would be mercy as well as justice. We can see this, of course, most plainly in God’s dealings with us. We can see, I mean, that justice and mercy are only two sides of the same thing. We know God gives us in all the circumstances of life what He sees to be best for us. We may sometimes call what He sends us a judgment, and sometimes we may call it a mercy, and all the time we know that the judgment as much as the mercy proceeds from His love proceeds from His knowledge of our real need; so that His justice is mercy in being what is best for us, and His mercy is justice, because that best is our due as being His children. Now, that is our ideal—a mercy that shall be justice, a justice that shall be mercy. Let us, then, do justice, let us love mercy, as becometh saints. And then for that third requirement. That, we know, is a pre-condition of the other two—“to walk humbly with God.” If the other two give the substance of saintship, surely this gives the secret—“to walk humbly with God.” It is a strange expression, and the rendering in the margin of the Bible is stranger still: “Humble thyself to walk with God.” Surely, if we had a vision of God as Moses or Isaiah, we should veil our faces and fall in the dust. Why should we need humility to walk with God? Indeed, it is a question well worth asking, Why are we so often ashamed to obey the promptings of God’s voice speaking in conscience? Why are we so often ashamed to be just, ashamed to be merciful, ashamed in society of defending an unpopular person, ashamed in politics of defending an unpopular cause, fearing to be righteous overmuch, to be merciful overmuch? May God give us enough humility to accept His Almighty guidance through this world—humility enough to be on the look-out for the way that He has prepared for us to walk in; and may He give us all the courage and the patience and the sympathy necessary for our task whatever it may prove to be. (H. C. Beeching.)
And to walk humbly with thy God.—Of walking humbly with God:—
The beginning of this chapter contains a most pathetical expostulation of God by the prophet with His people about their sins, and unworthy walking before Him. Convictions, made effectual upon the soul, draw out its inward principles, which are not otherwise discovered. Men think they must do something whereby to appease the God whom they have provoked. They fix on two general heads. They propose things which God Himself had appointed, such as sacrifices and burnt offerings. Or they propose things of their own finding out, which they suppose may have a further and better efficacy to the end aimed at than anything appointed of God Himself. They have a better opinion of their own ways and endeavours, for the pleasing of God and quieting their consciences, than of anything of God’s institution. There is nothing so desperate, irksome, or wicked that convinced persons will not engage to do under their pressure on the account of the guilt of sin. The prophet discovers to such persons their mistake. God prefers moral worship, in the way of obedience, to all sacrifice whatever. This moral obedience is referred to three heads—do justly; love mercy; walk humbly with God. The two first are comprehensive of our whole duty in respect of men. The third head regards the first table of the law.
I. What it is to walk with God.
1. Some things are required to it.
(1) Peace and agreement. These have to be made, can only be made, through the blood of atonement.
(2) Oneness of design. The aim of God, in general, is His own glory; in particular, it is “the praise of His glorious grace.” To exalt this glorious grace, two things are considerable. That all which is to be looked for at the hand of God is upon the account of mere grace and mercy. The enjoyment of Himself in this way of mercy and grace is that great reward of him that walks with Him. That a man may walk with another, it is required that he have a living principle in him to enable him thereimto.
2. What it is to walk with God. It consisteth in the performance of that obedience, for matter and manner, which God, in His covenant of grace, requires at our hands.
(1) That our obedience be walking with God, it is required that we be in covenant with Him, and that the obedience be required in the tenour of that covenant. Things required if it is to answer the tenovu: of the covenant. It must proceed from faith in God, by Christ the Mediator. The person must be perfect or upright therein.
(2) That our obedience may be walking with God, it is required that it be a constant progressive motion towards a mark before us. Walking is a constant progress.
(3) Walking with God is to walk always as under the eye of God. By a general apprehension of God’s omniscience and presence. Two things will follow being under the eye and control of God. Reverential thoughts of Him. Self-abasement iinder a sense of the imperfection of all our services.
3. Our walking with God in our obedience argues complacency and delight therein; and that we are bound unto God in His ways with the cords of love.
II. What it is to walk humbly with God. The original words are, “To humble thyself in walking.” In our walking with God distinguish between the inward power of it and the outward privilege of it. What it is in reference whereunto we are to humble ourselves in walking with God. To the law of His grace, and to the law of His providence. We must humble ourselves to place our obedience on a new foot of account, and yet to pursue it with no less diligence than if it stood upon the old. We must address ourselves to the greatest duties, being fully persuaded that we have no strength for the least. We must see that in Christ is our supply. And we humble ourselves to be contented to have the sharpest afflictions accompanying the strictest obedience. Consider now what it is to humble ourselves to the law of His providence. There is much in God’s providential administration beyond, and even apparently contradictory to, the reason of men. Four things require this humbling of ourselves.
(1) Visible confusion.
(2) Unsjpeakable variety.
(3) Sudden alterations.
(4) Deep distresses. We are to be humbled unto His sovereignty. His wisdom, His righteousness. How are we, by what means are we to humble ourselves to the law of God’s grace and providence?
(1) Let faith have its work.
(2) Constant abiding reverence of God will help the soul in this imiversal resignation and humbling of itself. This reverence of God ariseth from the infinite excellency and majesty of God and His great name. The infinite, inconceivable distance we stand from Him. This glorious God is pleased of His own grace to condescend to concern Himself in us and our services.
III. Humble walking with God is the great duty and most valuable concernment of believers. Sundry ways whereby glory redounds to God by believers humbly walking with Him.
1. It gives Him the glory of the doctrine of grace.
2. It gives Him the glory of the power of His grace.
3. It gives Him the glory of the law of His grace, that He is a King obeyed.
4. It gives Him the glory of His justice.
5. The glory of His kingdom; first, in its order and beauty; and secondly, in multiplying His subjects. This humble walking must certainly be the great and incomparable concernment of all those whose chief end is the advancement of the glory of God. In humble walking with God, we shall find peace in every condition. We shall find comfort. This will make us useful in our generation. (John Owen, D.D.)
Walk with God:—
Why not joyfully? There is a foundation laid for this. Joy is not, however, absolutely necessary. We have known much self-denial, and deadness to the world, and spirituality of devotion, and zeal for the glory of God and the welfare of others, in persons who may be said to be saved by hope, rather than confidence. But with regard to humbleness of mind, this is indispensable,—always, and in everything: and no progress can be made without it. How is our walking humbly with God to appear?
I. In connection with Divine truth. Here, God is our teacher; and if, as learners, we walk humbly with Him, we shall cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of Christ; we shall sacrifice the pride of reason; and having ascertained that the Scriptures are the Word of God, and discovered what they really contain, we shall not speculate upon their principles, but admit them on their Divine authority.
II. In connection with Divine ordinances. Here we walk with God as worshippers; and if we walk humbly with Him, we shall have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and with godly fear.
III. In connection with His mercies. Here we walk with God as our benefactor. If we walk humbly with Him, we shall own and feel that we have no claim upon God for anything we possess or enjoy.
IV. With regard to our trials. Here we walk with God as our reprover and correcter; and if we walk humbly, we shall not charge Him foolishly; we shall not arraign His authority, or ask, What doest Thou?
V. With regard to our conditions. Here we walk with God as our disposer and governor; and if we walk humbly, we shall hold ourselves at His control; we shall be willing that He should choose our inheritance for us. We shall be satisfied with our own allotment, and learn, in whatsoever state we are, therewith to be content.
VI. With regard to our qualification and ability for our work. Here we walk with God as our helper and strength; and if we walk humbly, we shall be sensible of our insufficiency for all the purposes of the Divine life. Here, humility is—to fear always; and to—pray. Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe.
VII. With regard to the whole of our recovery. Here we walk with God as a Saviour; and if we walk humbly, we shall not go about to establish our own righteousness, but submit ourselves unto the righteousness which is of God, and acknowledge that we have nothing to glory in before Him. Happy this humble walker with God! God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (William Jay.)
God’s requirements from His creatures:—
I. A great deal is required of man when he is told to “walk humbly with God.”
1. He who walks with God must be considered as living in the full consciousness that the eye of his Maker is ever upon him; that he cannot take a single unobserved step, nor do the least thing which escapes Divine notice. When you consider walking with God as implying an ever active consciousness of God’s presence, it would not perhaps be easy to find words which should better express a pre-eminent holiness. If a man has a practical conviction that God is ever at his side, such a man will be the same in public and in private.
2. Walking with God denotes a complete fixing of the affections “on things that are above.” He has both his head and his heart in heaven. High attainments in piety have been reached by the man to whom such a description applies.
II. Why, though a great deal be required, it might be spoken of in that almost slighting manner which is so observable in the text. The form of expression seems to indicate that God might have required much more than He has required. God asks nothing which it is not for man’s present as well as future advantage to yield. He hath so ordered His dealings with our race, that obedience is the parent of peace, and disobedience of disquietude. The creature is advantaged by giving what the Creator demands. God might have instituted so different a mode of dealing with man, that what He now asks is as nothing compared with what He might have demanded. (Henry Melvill, B.D.)
A question to which the text is an answer. This question teacheth us that ceremonial observances will not compensate a neglect of substantial duties; that hypocrites will give anything rather than give up themselves to the Lord; that it is not the costliness of the sacrifice, but the godliness of the sacrifice which God looketh at. The answer is, “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good.” Doctrine—In revealing our duty to us, God exacteth nothing of man but what is good. God has revealed His mind by the light of nature, and by the light of His Word, which is more clear, full, and certain. The revelation of God’s mind consists of two parts, the moral part, and the evangelical part. Whatever God has revealed is good. There is a moral and beneficial goodness. God exacteth nothing of us but what is good. This can be proved by the design of the Christian religion; and by the structure and frame of it. Doctrine—Walking humbly with God is our great duty, which distinguisheth the sincere from the hypocrites. What is walking humbly with God? A ready submitting and subjecting of ourselves to all God’s commands. This includes a fear to offend, and a care to please. A patient contentedness with every condition God bringeth us into. It implieth specially reverence in worship, and that we be deeply sensible of our unworthiness to approach His holy presence. A constant dependence on Him, and a looking for all from Him that we stand in need of in the course of our obedience. A modest sense of our own vileness and nothingness; humility being and involving a mean esteem of ourselves. What reasons may enforce this humility. It is God, on whom we continually depend, who requires it. It is our God, in whom we have direct interest. We are always with Him; in His eye and presence. Then if walking humbly with God distinguishes the sincere from the hypocrite, let us take care to walk humbly. (T. Manton, D.D.)
Humility before God:—
In the evening of the morning that Gordon, when in Palestine, received a telegram from England, asking him to undertake a mission which he had all his life longed to undertake, he was found by a friend outside the city wall, kneeling in prayer. When remonstrated with on account of the place being dangerous from Arabs, he replied, “The telegrams from England this morning filled me with such elation. I felt I might get into trouble by being proud, and I thought I would just get upon my horse and go away by myself and humble myself before God.”
Peace on the path (ver. 8, marg.):—
This “walking with God” is the most expressive phrase in the Bible for the Divine life. God and the soul companion pedestrians on the path of life—what could be more forcible? Walking with God is the flood-tide of spirituality in our hearts, all the shoals and rocks and shallows covered by the bay-filled sea.
I. Meeting must be. Before we can walk with God, we must have met Him. Here is just the difficulty, this is the stumble at the start. There can be no walking with God, no communion with Him, till agreement be come to. There is a quarrel and controversy in the universe. By birth, man is God’s enemy; by choice, he is; by will, he remains. Darkness and light cannot be together. How then can man walk with God? Agreement is found alone in the Lord Jesus. It is in the Cross of Christ.
II. Acquaintance must be. For walking together more is required than agreement. Agreement would not keep us together. This walking together is for the closest of friends alone. We must be friends with God. We must know one another, we must love one another. This acquaintance, this knowledge, this friendship is found also in the Lord Jesus. In Christ we know God, and thus we walk homeward together. Sin is that which brings distrust, and sin is done away in the Sin-Bearer.
III. The same pace must be. Walking with God implies that at the same pace the feet lift along the path. He knows what a slow, struggling pace ours is. He knows how our faltering feet drag along on the heavenly road. God will not let His feeble child walk cheerlessly alone, far behind Him.
IV. Going the same way must be. When two walk together, one face does not look one way, and the other face the other way. Both step onward side by side. Thus it is with us and the Lord, our Companion. (J. Bailey, A.M.)
8. The prophet addresses the blackguard as man, not to identify him with humanity in general but to lump him together with all such worshippers. Up to now Micah has accused Israel’s leaders; now he accuses the people. Before answering the presumptuous retort, Micah first destroys any idea that the worshipper’s contemptible answer can be chalked up to ignorance. In the same epoch that the Lord saved Israel he had also given her his covenant and instructed priests to transmit its stipulations to succeeding generations. The prophets took up where the priests miscarried. Nevertheless, Micah repeats the stipulations once more in order to open the door of hope and to bring Israel back into covenant and security before it is too late. The prophets referred to the covenant’s moral requirements either by the shorthand word good, as in verse 8a (cf. Isa. 1:17; 5:20; Amos 5:14–15; Mic. 3:2), or, as in verse 8b, by generalizing summaries of the Lord’s will, composed of two or, as here, three elements (cf. Isa. 5:7; Hos. 4:1; 6:6; 12:6; Amos 5:24). Before such love as God has shown, Israel is not free to grab what she can out of life and be indifferent to others. Rather, first, she must act justly, that is, when in a socially superior position, step in and deliver the weaker and wronged party by punishing the oppressor. Israel’s leaders had done just the opposite (2:1–2; 3:1–3, 5–7, 9–11). Second, to love mercy adds the thought that anyone who is in a weaker position due to some misfortune or other should be delivered not reluctantly, but out of a spirit of generosity, grace and loyalty. Acts of justice and succour motivated by a spirit of mercy guarantee the solidity and durability of the righteous covenant. Third, to walk humbly should be rendered ‘to walk circumspectly’. This command, which is orientated towards God (in contrast to the first two, which are directed towards man), does not refer to self-effacement but to bringing one’s life into conformity with God’s will. The prophet does not reject ritual; he simply reasserts that the moral law has priority over the ceremonial. These particulars of the moral law are eternally relevant. If God’s saving acts at the founding of Israel merit a loving surrender to God, how much more should his love displayed in Jesus Christ move people to become his disciples? Christians, like Micah’s contemporaries and the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, are also in danger of substituting monetary gifts and a dead moralism for the radical and continuing repentance that Christ demands.
6:8 / Yahweh’s answer to such blasphemy is spoken through Micah. God has showed Israel what is good, verse 8. Through all the long centuries of Israel’s prophetic and cultic activity, carried by story in its oral traditions and set down in its written narratives, God’s will has been shown to his people and made very clear (cf. Luke 16:31; John 5:45–47). That will is what is good, and it is good because it is the will of Yahweh, the Lord and redeemer of Israel’s life. There is no other good outside of God, no virtue, no ideology, no civil, political or religious scheme that can qualify unless it accords with God’s desire for human life. Thus, the Israelite speaker is addressed here as ʾādām, man, mortal, creature before the creator and subject totally to the creator’s definitions of good. God has created human life on this earth, and as its creator, God alone can say what and how it should be lived.
But the Lord is a “gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Jonah 4:2 rsv; cf. Exod. 34:6; Num 14:18; Ps. 86:5, 15; Joel 2:13; Mic. 7:18), and so once more God spells out the “good” requirements for his impatient and exasperated people’s communion with him, verse 8, telling them that this is what he is “seeking” or “looking for” (Hb. dôrēš, require niv). God wants them to “do mišpāṭ,” which the niv has translated as act justly. The phrase can indicate the performance of justice within a court of law, and certainly that meaning is included here, in accord with Micah’s earlier statements (cf. 2:2, 9; 3:1–3, 10–11). But in this generalized setting, the phrase means to set up every area of Israel’s life in accord with God’s will, and not according to human advantage, comfort, or desire. The “just” society is one in which God’s order for human life is established.
The second requirement then follows naturally—“to love ḥesed,” which the niv translates to love mercy. It is possible to translate the Hebrew noun with “mercy,” but ḥesed’s meaning goes far beyond that. Ḥesed is “covenant love,” being bound together in solidarity with both God and human beings, so that community is established between poor and rich, weak and strong, female and male, slave and free, alien and Israelite (cf. Gal. 3:28), and all care for one another in mutual respect and protection and sharing. Ḥesed binds people together as one in the bundle of life, so that God is not worshiped and obeyed apart from concern for one’s fellow human being (cf. Matt. 5:23–24; Gal. 5:14; 6:2). That is the community solidarity that Israel is to “love”—the verb is ʾāhab, which is used of the deepest love of a wife for her husband or of a child for his or her parent.
The third “good” that God expects from the Israelites in his covenant relation with them is to walk humbly with your God. “To walk with God” means to live with God in constant communion. Here, the nature of that walk is characterized by the hiphil infinitive absolute, haṣnēaʿ, which is translated as the adverb “humbly” in the English. More is involved in the word’s meaning than simply our thoughts of “modest,” “lowly,” or “self—effacing,” as in Isa. 57:15 or 66:2, though certainly that meaning is included here over against Israel’s exasperated blasphemy against its God. It has had the audacity to quarrel and become impatient with this Lord of its life! But the meaning of “humbly” here can also be “attentive,” “paying attention to,” “watching” Yahweh during their journey together. Walking humbly with God is living from God’s word and not one’s own, paying attention to God’s will and not following one’s own desires, turning one’s eyes to God as a servant turns his or her eyes to the master (cf. Ps. 123:2) for guidance, approbation, and correction. It is such a humble walk with God that makes it possible to act justly and to love ḥesed, and thus this requirement sums up the other two. Israel is put in its place here and shown to be lacking. These are the things it should have done but has not done. It stands indicted at the bar of God and can make no further reply.
This instruction is aimed entirely at Israel in this passage, and man is not to be taken in a general sense to include all of humanity, as many have interpreted it. These are requirements laid upon those who stand in covenant with the Lord witnessed to in Old Testament and New. Thus, they are just as surely requirements laid upon the church of Jesus Christ, the people of the new covenant in him.
8 The tension is now resolved. This concluding section follows on in form from the preceding one, providing an authoritative answer to the barrage of questions. Posing as a priest, the prophet in measured tones replies to the people’s basic question about the response God wants from his people. As the individual worshipper of vv, 6, 7 was a personification of Israel, so he is here as the man now addressed. This is more obvious in the original: ʾāḏām is more often used collectively than of a single person. It takes up the thought of the distance between Yahweh and Israel expressed at the head of the previous section. Man is frequently used in the OT as a contrast to divine power and glory, stressing what is creaturely in the human constitution. Here it is intended to remind the people of their subordination to God and to cut them down to size after their presumptuous retort.41 In the role of priestly teacher Micah passes on a traditional answer. He has nothing new to say with regard to the divine will. Israel has already been given the message long ago and reminded of it regularly by cultic proclamation. The prophet is appealing to the other side of the covenant formulations, the summons to Israel to obey. This second side is now stressed in a manner akin to 1 Sam. 12, where the summons is linked with Samuel’s instruction of the people “in the good and right way” (v. 24). In view of the covenantal framework the reference must be to the stipulations of the divine covenant. This use of good, which makes a comprehensive appeal to previously accepted covenantal standards of manifold type, occurs explicitly in Hos. 8:1–3, where the people of the Northern Kingdom are described thus:
They have infringed my covenant
and rebelled against my law.
To me they cry, “My God,
we, Israel, know you.”
Israel has rejected the good.
The last statement is a paraphrase of the earlier pair. The northerners had in their conduct repudiated Yahweh’s covenant claims while in their worship they were claiming their covenant relationship with him. Micah’s message is a similar one.
A characteristic of the entrance liturgy was to give a short, catechetical answer to the questions of the one who sought advice. So, following his model, the prophet gives a summary of the requirements Yahweh has laid upon Israel. His words are a classic definition of the people’s duty toward each other and toward their God. It is comparable with Jesus’ epitome of the man ward side of OT piety: “Treat people in the way you would like them to treat you: this is the intent of the law and prophets” (Matt. 7:12). It bears more precise comparison with his selection of the two commandments, to love God and one’s neighbor, as a terse description of the essence of Israel’s double duty (Mark 12:29–31). Micah’s summary is in form and content strongly reminiscent of Hosea’s injunction at the end of a similar call to trial:
“Maintain loyalty and justice
and always wait trustingly for your God.” (Hos. 12:6)
The first of Yahweh’s requirements is oriented toward the human community. The OT believer stood within a circle of other faithful men, all bound together by common membership of a covenant relationship with Yahweh. Social and moral standards were laid down for the individual to practice in his relations with his companions in the faith. Commitment to Yahweh included commitment to the covenant community. Justice is the key word so often used by the prophets to sum up this social obligation. It covers and transcends a host of negative precepts, such as prohibition of oppression, perjury, and bribery. It calls for a sense of responsibility toward weaker members of society lest they go to the wall. It insists on the rights of others; it demands an instinct for social preservation.
The second part of the summary likewise stresses communal obligations. Ḥeseḏ, rendered loyalty, is a term that Hosea especially made his own as a definition of the panorama of Israel’s theology and ethics. It is a word of relationship, expressing an attitude of covenant obligation. Fundamentally it describes the divine “love that will not let me go,” the firm and faithful loyalty of Yahweh toward Israel, his quality of constancy toward his own.47 In grace God had tied himself in covenant bond and voluntarily taken upon himself obligations he was honor-bound to fulfil. The resultant attitude of heart was ḥeseḏ. As a word of partnership it betokens mutual loyalty, not only the faithfulness of God to man but man’s faithfulness to God. Through Hosea Yahweh had complained in bitter, disappointed tones how fickle and fleeting was Israel’s ḥeseḏ,
like a morning cloud,
like the dew that disappears so early. (Hos. 6:4)
Nor was the content of the term yet exhausted. It was used to describe not only the response of man to God but also the manifestation toward one another of this same loyal spirit. Like the injunction to love in the NT, it took its cue from the revelation of God’s own heart. It represented the high ideal of a national solidarity enriched and empowered by the solidarity of divine commitment to Israel. Alas, it fell to Hosea again to deliver to the Northern Kingdom Yahweh’s indictment:
There is no faithfulness orḥeseḏ
and no knowledge of God in the country.
There is cursing, perjury, murder;
robbery and adultery abound
and bloodshed follows bloodshed. (Hos. 4:1, 2)
In striking alignment with such covenant traditions as the Decalog and Lev. 19:11–18 in the Holiness Code, Hosea exposed the disparity between the community spirit enjoined upon Israel and the wretched reality. Micah calls the Southern Kingdom to a higher ethic than their northern neighbors managed to attain. At the divine behest he summons them to reflect in every corner of their society God’s own concern for them. If ḥeseḏ modelled upon their Lord’s is cherished among them, then will the covenant purpose of God have reached its goal in the establishment of a society where theology and ethics are one.
If the first two requirements of this formula for fulfilment of the covenant are oriented toward a human ethic, they are nonetheless grounded in the revelation of God’s character and will. This latent motivation is expressed in the third requirement, a careful walk with God. Paul was doubtless echoing it when he urged the churches of Asia Minor to “look carefully how you walk, like sensible not senseless people.… Do not be thoughtless, but discern what the Lord’s will is” (Eph. 5:15, 17). Over against a natural tendency to self-centeredness and turning every one to his own way, Micah counsels a life of fellowship with the God of the covenant. Your God is one half of the traditional description of the covenant, a counterpart to my people. It thus forms a fitting conclusion to a passage that had earlier referred to my people. Israel’s life in partnership with God is described as walking with him. By virtue of Yahweh’s special relationship with Israel they were offered communion which it was possible for them either to respond to or to reject. The response God sought was a comprehensive one of constant consideration of his grace in the past and of his will for the present, and a readiness to be guided by him in all life’s ventures. There were many in Micah’s day to whom fellowship with God was a comfort: to “walk with the Upright One” (2:7) was the privilege of being kept by a faithful God. The prophet urges that it should mean a continual challenge and involvement with God in dedicated living.
Micah’s prescription of covenant responsibility to man and God represents a considerable broadening of the scope of the response Judah evidently expected to give. The purely religious dimension of vv. 6, 7 is judged inadequate. It would be unfair to conclude that Micah replaces the forms of religion with social ethics, for God’s covenant with Israel traditionally included a strong cultic emphasis as an integral part. So a careful walk with God would find partial fulfilment in the observance of ritual laws. The message of the Master is here foreshadowed: “First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:24). To a generation preoccupied with things ceremonial to the neglect of weightier matters of the law, Micah needs to bring a counterstress on the impact of the covenant upon all of life’s concerns. “The prophets did not believe that a change in the ritual was essential: they merely shifted the emphasis from form to substance, from the acts of worship to the life of the worshipper, from rites to character.” To keep Yahweh confined in a gilded cultic cage was a travesty of faith in a moral God who on Israel’s behalf had proved himself Lord of history.
“Does Yahweh appreciate burnt offerings or sacrifices
as much as obeying Yahweh’s voice?
No, better is obedience than sacrifice
and submissiveness than rams’ fat.” (1 Sam. 15:22)
Participation in a divine covenant was basic to Israel’s self-understanding. But surrounded as they were by religion of a different type, they were ever prone to a misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of the covenant. They succumbed to the heresy of straining a partial truth beyond its proper limits. The specifically religious side of Israelite faith was stressed in such a way that it was conveniently forgotten that Yahweh’s sovereignty extended over the whole of life. Ceremonies discharged with emotional feeling and material extravagance became the sum total of spiritual commitment. “They would offer everything excepting what alone he asked for, their heart, its love and its obedience” (Pusey). Nor did such distortion die in the eighth century B.C. The letters of John and James are eloquent pleas for a balanced and consistent faith permeating life in its entirety and leaving no corner unillumined by God’s glory. The “living sacrifice” and “figurative worship” of Rom. 12:1 are the response demanded by God’s “mercies” revealed in the events of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost.
8 Micah now asks and answers the question, “What does the Lord require of you?” He does so in a verse justly regarded as one of the memorable and timeless expressions of OT ethical religion (cf. Jas 1:27). It is a heart’s response to God demonstrated in the basic elements of true religion, as shown to Israel in the social concerns reflected in the Mosaic legislation.
God has told his people what is good. The Mosaic law differentiates between good and bad and reflects God’s will in many areas of their religious and social lives. It indicates what God requires (dāraš, “seeks”) of them. They are to act justly (lit., “do justice,” mišpāṭ). The word “justly” here has the sense of “true religion,” that is, the ethical response to God that has a manifestation in social concerns as well (cf. Note on 3:8). “To love mercy” is freely and willingly to show kindness to others (cf. Notes below). The expression “to walk humbly with your God” means to live in conscious fellowship with God by exercising a spirit of humility before him. These great words recall similar words of our Lord in Matthew 23:23.
The prophet is not suggesting that sacrifice is completely ineffectual and that simply a proper attitude of heart toward God will suffice. In the preceding verse he painted a caricature—a purposefully exaggerated picture—of the sacrificial system to indicate that God has no interest in the multiplication of empty religious acts. Jeremiah 7:22–23 is often appealed to as evidence that the prophets rejected the Levitical system; yet Jeremiah promised that the offerings would be acceptable if the people were obedient (Jer 17:24–26). A similar attitude toward sacrifice is expressed in Psalm 51:16–17, but the succeeding verses show the author to be indicating that the Levitical sacrifices are acceptable to God only when accompanied by a proper attitude of heart toward him (51:18–19).
The ethical requirements of v. 8 do not comprise the way of salvation. Forgiveness of sin was received through the sacrifices. The standards of this verse are for those who are members of the covenantal community and delineate the areas of ethical response that God wants to see in those who share the covenantal obligations.
 Peacock, K. (2017). Micah. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1415). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Mic 6:8). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Mic 6:8). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17)
According to this gracious covenant the Lord treats His people as if they had never sinned. Practically, He forgets all their trespasses. Sins of all kinds He treats as if they had never been, as if they were quite erased from His memory. O miracle of grace! God here doth that which in certain aspects is impossible to Him. His mercy worketh miracles which far transcend all other miracles.
Our God ignores our sin now that the sacrifice of Jesus has ratified the covenant. We may rejoice in Him without fear that He will be provoked to anger against us because of our iniquities. See! He puts us among the children; He accepts us as righteous; He takes delight in us as if we were perfectly holy. He even puts us into places of trust; makes us guardians of His honor, trustees of the crown jewels, stewards of the gospel. He counts us worthy and gives us a ministry; this is the highest and most special proof that He does not remember our sins. Even when we forgive an enemy, we are very slow to trust him; we judge it to be imprudent so to do. But the Lord forgets our sins and treats us as if we had never erred. O my soul, what a promise is this! Believe it and be happy.
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
Kristine was told she would be released early from prison. She was being rewarded for her good behavior. Then at the last minute, she was falsely accused by an inmate. She now faced ten more years behind bars.
Before prison, Kristine would’ve responded with bitterness and anger. But she had changed. She felt God asking her to forgive her accuser and patiently await the outcome. This new response surprised those around her – even herself! [She had chosen a peaceful and forgiving attitude.]
At a prison Bible study, Kristine learned about living a victorious Christian life.
Now she was putting it into practice. And finally, the accusation was dropped.
But even before the announcement, Kristine’s faith had given her freedom.
Friend, faith in Christ can free your imprisoned heart too!
More Difficult to Be Born or to Be Raised? Acts 17:32
Atheists—What reason have they for saying that we cannot rise from the dead? What is more difficult, to be born or to rise again; that what has never been should be, or that what has been should be again? Is it more difficult to come into existence than to return to it? Habit makes the one appear easy to us; want of habit makes the other impossible.
Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Continue Faithful in Labor Now Matthew 25:14–30; Luke 19:12–27; 1 Corinthians 3:13
Labor a little now, and soon you shall find great rest, in truth, eternal joy; for if you continue faithful and diligent in doing, God will undoubtedly be faithful and generous in rewarding.
THOMAS À KEMPIS*
Ritzema, E., & Brant, R. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Medieval church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
…as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. – 1 Peter 2:2
Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-3
We have seen how the beginning of our spiritual lives comes by the Word, through the gospel preached to us. If we want to grow in that life, that is also something God works by His living and abiding Word.
Have you ever seen a baby who is desperately hungry for its mother’s milk? Babies can get very passionate about this desire! And that is the picture Peter gives here of our need as sojourners. Amid the battles and challenges of life, where sometimes the biggest enemy is our own sinful flesh, sojourners hunger with the passion of newborn babies for the pure milk of the Word.
Do not be like some people who misapply Peter’s emphasis. The point here is not that there is something praiseworthy about remaining immature as a Christian, only wanting milk and not solid food. That’s embarrassing! (Compare to Hebrews 5:12).
We are not being encouraged here to remain as weak and helpless babies in our Christian walk. Sojourners want to grow! And sojourners want to get rid of sin in their lives: all hatred, lies, superficiality, and sinful talk. If we know ourselves well, we will know these are demanding tasks that work up an appetite. So, we hungrily crave more and more of God’s Word.
And, in the Word, as our hungry souls are refreshed in looking to Jesus, we taste again and again that the Lord is gracious. It tastes like more!
Suggestions for prayer
Ask God to give you a passionate hunger and thirst for His Word and for the grace we taste, in Jesus. Pray for the passion of a newborn babe, as well as the growing maturity of one who cannot get over the blessing of God’s grace in Jesus.
Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.