What the Lord Requires
Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:6–8
suggested further reading: 1 Samuel 15:13–35
When men litigate one with another, there is no cause so good but what an opposing party can undo. But, as the prophet suggests here, men lose all their efforts at evasions when God summons them to trial. The prophet also shows what deep roots hypocrisy has in the hearts of all people, for they will forever deceive themselves and try to deceive God.
Why do people who are proved guilty fail to immediately and in the right way come to God in repentance, but instead seek elaborate, winding excuses? It is not because they have any doubt about what is right, unless they willfully deceive themselves, but because they willfully seek the subterfuges of error. It hence appears that men perversely go astray whenever they fail to repent as they ought and fail to bring to God true integrity of heart.
It is also true that the whole world, which continues in its superstitions, is without excuse. For if we scrutinize the intentions of men, we eventually understand that people carefully and anxiously seek various superstitions because they are unwilling to come before God and to devote themselves to him without deceit and hypocrisy. Since it is so, all who desire to pacify God with their own ceremonies and other trifles cannot by any pretext escape judgment.
God has clearly and distinctly prescribed what he requires of us, but the ungodly wish to be ignorant of this. Hence their error is at all times willful. We ought to note this in the words of the prophet.
for meditation: It is much easier to render to God anything other than a broken heart and an upright life. Sacrifices are easily obtained, but they can serve as no substitute for what the Lord really requires of us. Are we striving, by grace, to live justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God?