POSITIVE LIVING: WHAT DOES THE LORD REQUIRE OF US?

anguillian
By anguillian June 27, 2016 09:43 Updated

 

 

 

What does the Lord require of me? What does the Lord require of us within our homes, within our workplaces, within our churches, within our individual communities and within our country at large? Amidst all that is happening in the world, and especially in our country today, we need to sit in quiet reflection and think on those questions.

Anguilla is at another crossroads, another defining moment in its history, hence we need God’s direction and intervention in order to move forward successfully. We need to go to God fervently and inquire of Him, what does He require of us – you and me, the people who make up the society and the nation of Anguilla? What does the Lord require of us ordinary people, of those of us who have influence and clout in the community, in the churches and in the country? What does the Lord require of those who were elected to serve us in national government, and in regional and international forums?

You see, in the past when a nation found itself in turmoil, it was the opportune time for it to pay close attention to what was happening, because that was an indication that something was going wrong. Such was the case in Jerusalem when the prophet Micah came on the scene. Jerusalem was in trouble. Jerusalem was in crisis. It was at the “end of the good times”. Micah spoke to the people of God just before their country and their life began to fall apart. He came out to denounce the evils that had filled his beloved land – Jerusalem.
Micah could not sit back and do nothing, neither could he bury his head in the sand like an ostrich and pretend nothing was amiss. His conscience just could not allow that to happen. He was moved; he got involved; he had a responsibility to his God and to his people. He saw his people’s plight and felt their pain. He was indignant over the ways in which the rich and powerful used every opportunity to exploit the poor and the weak. He was especially bitter about the ruling classes who used their positions of power to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor. Such were the prophet’s words about them. He said: “Woe to them that devise wickedness, and resolve on evil, lying on their beds; by the first light of the morning they practise it, for it is in their power. They covet fields and take them by violence, and houses and take them away…Therefore, thus has said God: ‘Behold, I will devise against these families evil, from which you shall not remove your necks.’…” Micah described the sins of the people, and especially of their leaders and judges, “Who make crooked all that is straight.” He had harsh words for the judges that can be bribed and the priests that can be hired, saying to themselves, “Evil cannot befall us.” If they continued in their evil way, the prophet warned, “Zion shall be ploughed up like a field, and Jerusalem shall become ruinous heaps, and the mount of the Beth-Hamikdosh forest-covered heights!” (Micah 2).
God was not happy with what was going on, with the things he saw, so he sent the prophet Micah to speak to his people – to warn them. Micah posed the very same question to the people that is posed to us today – What does the Lord require of us? This is a sobering question which we will do well to think of now. What God required of his people in those days of Micah are the same things that God requires of us today. That requirement is much more than being a member of a church or a regular churchgoer. It is much more than supporting your church’s ministry. It is much more than being a member of an organization. God’s requirement of us supersedes all of those things. You see, if there is no consistency between our outer form of worship and our inner values, if there is no connection between our rituals of worship and our behaviour in life, we are just going through the motions and our worship is just superficial.
God’s requirement for us as individuals, and as a people, can be found in the same book – the Bible. He has spelled it out in clear and specific detail, so there is no need for us to wonder or speculate. Those requirements are absolute necessities – non-negotiable. There is no way around them. They are the non-negotiable foundation of the Law of Moses and of the teaching of Jesus; the three things that we need to get right if we are to have any chance at all of building a society which serves everyone adequately and righteously.
The same things God expected of Israel, are the same for us here in Anguilla today. Micah told the people that God’s demands are clear and simple: “He has told thee, man, what is good, and what God requires of thee: only to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:8).

Firstly, God requires you and me “to do justice.” The verb “to do” emphasizes this is not an ideal, but a practice. It is not a concept, but an ethic. It is not some grand philosophy, it is something you do. It is an active engagement in the world. Justice is about the equal treatment of all people. Justice is about equal opportunity for everyone. Justice is about ensuring that everyone has a fair share of God’s Providence and no one is left out. Justice is about living simply, about being satisfied with having enough and sharing with those who do not have enough. Justice is about community. Justice is about being right in your personal relationships, and it is about demanding the right social systems in the land.
Micah and the other prophets were very clear that a follower of the Lord does justice. Moses: “Justice and only justice you shall follow” (Deuteronomy 16:20). The psalmist, “God loves justice and righteousness and steadfast love” (Psalm 33:5). Amos: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). You see, Justice is working for the little people of our society and world – working for the widow, fatherless, orphans, poor, hungry, stranger, needy, weak and oppressed, so they get their fair share, that they are treated with fairness.
Micah went on to say, even the priests were greedy. The other prophets preached only what the people wanted to hear, and the kings protected the wealthy against the poor. As we listen to, and watch at, all that is happenings in our country today, can we in all good conscience say that we are operating in a just manner one with another? Can we in all good conscience say that there is justice done in the things we see, read and hear in our land? Can we all in good conscience say that the escalating burden of debt on the poor is an act of justice? As we go about our daily lives, we need to remember that justice is one of God’s requirements. God is calling on each one of us to act justly with each other in our homes, workplaces, churches, communities and in the nation. Justice is something God demands of us. There is no way around it. It is non- negotiable!

We can learn something about the people’s social and economic situation from Micah’s condemnation of their rulers, merchants, and prophets. It was a society where the rich and powerful used their influence to exploit the vulnerable and to create even greater inequalities of wealth and influence. Micah condemned the leaders of his people for injustices perpetuated against the poor and powerless, a complacency that pretended nothing is wrong and the abuse of power by both political and religious leaders. When Micah confronted the leaders of the nation with these injustices, their response was to change the subject (Micah 2:6-7), in other words telling him to “hush up, shut up, stop the noise”, but Micah took a stance in spite of the opposition.
Micah knew that his messages were not the kind that would gain popular approval but, true to his calling as a prophet, he declared, “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin” (Micah 3:8). And God is calling and counting on you and me, all of us as well, to take a stand against injustice of all kinds.

God’s second requirement of us is to love mercy or to “Love Kindness”. He said this is non-negotiable. We all know what kindness is – showing compassion, sympathy, gentleness, benevolence, helpfulness towards others. We are called upon to take pleasure in being merciful. We are to be ready to forgive each other no matter what. This is extremely hard to do at times, but one reason why we are to love mercy is because God Himself delights in showing mercy to his people and to us (Micah: 7:18-19). People should not be used as objects of manipulation.

Because God delights in mercy, He expects us to delight in mercy as well. The Apostle Luke wrote, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Proverbs 3:3: “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart.” Proverbs 11:17: “The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.”
God’s third requirement of us is for us to walk humbly with our God. Not full of ourselves. Not preoccupied with ourselves but rather in humility. Jesus said that the greatest person in the kingdom of God was a person who was humble like a little child (Matthew 18:4). It implies sensitivity to the things of God. To allow our hearts to be broken by the things that break the heart of God. It is a deep desire to see the world through the eyes of God, for us to act in the world as God would act. Jesus said that the greatest virtue of all the virtues was humility. The Apostle Paul said that Jesus “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but humbled himself, becoming obedient onto death”(Philippians 2:5-11). To walk humbly with God is to sacrifice our busy and self-centered selves and focus on others rather than ourselves and our pleasures.

To walk humbly with our God means for us to live a life of steadfast love for others, especially those whom Jesus called “the least of these.” Jesus said that the greatest virtue of all the virtues was humility. Walking in pride is the opposite of walking humbly. Pride makes us independent of God. God hates pride! It is number one (1) on the list of the things that God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). God resisteth the proud (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). Therefore pride will put us in a precarious position. It will invite an onslaught by God. Humility, on the other hand, will make us dependent on God and will invite his grace. When we walk humbly with God, we acknowledge His sovereignty in our lives. He is our Creator and our Benefactor. Therefore, we must endeavor to seek His will and yield to His will in our lives, because His ways are higher than our ways.
Frederick Douglass once said, “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” Haile Selassie also stated, that: “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”

Therefore, may God help us as we move forward to live out God’s requirements: “do justly, love kindness, and walk humbly with thy God” in our lives.

About the Author: Mrs. Marilyn Hodge owns and operates the Wellness Centre in the Farrington, Anguilla. The Centre offers Counselling Services by Appointment Only and has now published Positive Living Volume 2. Contact information: 476-3517 or email:marilynb@anguillanet.com. www.facebook.com/axawellnesscentre

anguillian
By anguillian June 27, 2016 09:43 Updated

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