The Lord requires . . .

The Lord requires . . .

During the Civil War, a man asked President Abraham Lincoln, “Is God on our side?” Lincoln responded, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

Do we share President Lincoln’s greatest concern? Are our thoughts and actions trained on doing things God’s way?

When we read or watch the news, we find endless interviews of people who have strong opinions and are very angry with those who might have a different approach. If we engage in the discussion, nearly any discussion, those having a contrasting view often attack by accusing, stereotyping and name calling. Even an attempt to comfort is often met with a snarly bite. As I step back and try to make sense of the hatred, division, prejudice and partisan politics, I cry out to God saying, “this isn’t what you require Lord. Help us do it your way.” I must say that we are in a sad state, very sad, as we have lost our sense of deportment and love for our neighbor and find ourselves highjacked by a “cancel culture.”

Let me ask you a question. Yes you. Is what your saying and doing helping, actually helping, those suffering from COVID-19, to protect those most vulnerable to this virus, to heal racial division, to address injustice, hatred and prejudice in a God honoring way? A way that brings about solutions and progress? In case you are wondering what the Lord requires, the Prophet Micah answers the question, MICAH 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

I hope you’d agree that our focus should be on what the Lord requires. Right? Okay then, let’s break this down. First, “act justly.” As Kenneth Barker (The New American Commentary) explains, “to act justly does not mean merely to talk about justice or to get other people to act justly. It means to do the just thing yourself.” Unfortunately, we judge others for not doing the just thing but don’t hold our self to the same standard. Second, “love mercy.” The Hebrew for “mercy” is ḥesed, which means “faithful covenant love.” We might best understand this in the English as “love others faithfully.” This isn’t where you are just required to faithfully love those who agree with you. No. No. This means love all others faithfully. Of course, you can disagree and even rebuke someone but “speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15)” and continue to love that person with a heart of mercy. Thirdly, “walk humbly with your God.” “Walk” means to “live” in a certain way. So “walk humbly” means we must be very careful to “live the way God wants us to.”

Let’s apply this shall we. JAMES 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Is your treatment of people different from you consistent with what God requires? Is your speech, attitude and actions, regardless of the circumstances, consistent with what God requires? Are your social media posts consistent with what God requires? Is your attitude toward those in authority consistent with what God requires? Is your compassion toward the vulnerable consistent with what God requires? Is your response to injustice, prejudice and hatred consistent with what God requires? If not, the only legitimate response is repentance. AC 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord . . .”

As Christians, we need to show the way. It begins with the condition of our heart expressed in our words. LUKE 6:45 “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” In fact, our tongue should be used to praise the Lord and build others up. No matter, the answer is love.  JAMES 3:7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. All in all, if our heart reflects anything other than love, even in the face of our enemies, we are far from what the Lord requires. MATTHEW 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I conclude with where I started, are our thoughts and actions trained on doing things God’s way? Before you answer, as a reminder, this goes further than just being on God’s side when it comes to the issues and circumstances. It also includes the condition of our heart and our motives. The Lord requires . . . To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. With that said, are we on God’s side?

A Work in Progress,

Pastor Gene