Requirements 101

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“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8

You have no excuse.  I have no excuse.  He has shown us.  God has set before us, right in front of our very eyes and lives, exactly what is good, exactly what His expectations are.  First He gave us His Word and His prophets.  Then we saw what is good in Your eyes lived out in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God, God with us.  He has shown us, people.  We have no excuse for not seeing.

But what if I still act like I don’t get it?  What if I say, “What do You require of me Lord?  What is good according to You?”  Well, what is the answer then?  I suppose it all starts by acknowledging that You alone are good, by acknowledging that Jesus is the epitome of all things good.  If I want to know what is good, I must know Jesus.  If I look at Him and into Him, I will see everything that is good.  I will know what goodness appears like and acts like and thinks like in this world.

So once I understand that there is only One who is good and that goodness begins and only exists in God, in Jesus Christ, then the next logical question is, “What do You, Lord, require of me?’  That’s easy.  Goodness.  What is goodness?  Youness.  You require me to demonstrate You, in Your entirety in my life.  It has nothing to do with knowing about You or knowing about goodness or knowing about justice or knowing about mercy, or knowing about humbleness.  But it has everything to do with being “those things” for lack of a better way of putting it.  I must know You so intimately that I not only understand Your ways but Your ways become my ways because You are as integral a part of my being as breathing is.  Actually, You are more integral than even breathing.  Your character isn’t just a good thing to emulate.  Your character must dwell in me or I can’t exhibit Your character.

And this is not a one time deal.  I don’t just become Yours one day and then I’m finished becoming.  I become Yours and then I invest myself continually in You as You continually invest Yourself in me deeper and deeper every moment.  You require something of me.  Your gift is free because there is nothing I could do to ever earn it.  But it’s not free of responsibility.  You require something of me.  What is it that You require?  Well, it’s in that word “darash.”  It’s used in Hebrew study of the Scriptures as a drash.  It’s a verb that emphasizes “continued, deliberate searching.”  You require this of me.  And when this is what I give in obedience to You, then love shines forth.  I’ll know, and I mean really know, the Good One, not just what is good.

There are three things here that You are looking for in my life, that I ought to exhibit from within to without because I KNOW the GOOD ONE, and I want to do what is required.  I mean, that’s the least that I can do for You.  Knowing You, I am to follow You in doing justly.  The word for “do” here is “asah” and it’s this common word for making or forming.  The importance of the word is in who is doing the making or forming, in who is performing the action.  But what action am I performing or should I ask, what action am I allowing to be formed in me?  And who am I letting form that action in me?

I am to do “mishpat.”  Do what?  Justice.  Oh, OK, I can do good things and be fair and give people what they deserve.  Really?  Is that Jesus’ mishpat?  Did you know that it has nothing to do with legal fairness.  Oh, no, I can see that this is not going to be so easy after all.  Maybe this isn’t going to be so cut and dry.  “It is the word that summarizes the entire government of God.  It extends from grace to judgment.  It encompasses everything that God is doing to bring about the restoration of His kingdom on earth.  Mishpat is about my whole attitude toward life–an attitude that views everything in terms of God’s purposes.”  (Skip Moen)  Wow!  Justice just got a whole lot broader and unless I really know Jesus and understand how He thinks, how will I ever understand this concept?  I have to be immersed in the attitude of Jesus, of God Himself, to show true justice then.  I have to understand grace myself, before I can show God’s justice to others.  I have to understand Your government and I have to live in it and under it before I can be just and even be able to show an inkling of it in my life.  Do I know You deeply and personally enough so that my attitude in real life reflects Yours, not only about me but toward others?

It doesn’t stop there.  I am to love mercy.  I am to love it.  This word for love is from the Hebrew word “ahab.”  Examining it’s pictograph is pretty telling.  From the pictograph you can say that “ahab” says “those who make up the household or family behold the authority of the leader.”  Do You mean love has to do with letting the authority be in control?  Does it really have to do with obedience and allowing the Rightful One to be in full control over His house?  Is that love? So, love is when I behold You and as a result of beholding You, I conform to Your control and let You exercise it over me and around me.  I might not feel good about it.  I might wish You’d do it a different way, but I obey, even when I don’t feel like it.  Why?  Because I “recognize, acknowledge, and obey Your authority.”    I understand our relationship because I know You and I know myself.  So I learn to surrender to You because You I can trust to always be right.  Me, I can’t trust.  How do I know that?  Because I’ve come to know You and Your faithfulness and Your goodness.

Love is my active submission to You.  You are my Authority.  I do what You ask.  I don’t just feel merciful.  I DO mercy.  There’s a difference.  Mercy flows from Your Being because You are Authority, You are Love.  If I am in You, I am in Love, I am in Your Authority, and as You flow from me, Your mercy flows from me.  You don’t just think mercy, You do it, no, YOU ARE MERCY.

But loving mercy is more than loving mercy.  The Hebrew word is “chesed.”  The ESV translates it closer to “loving kindness.”  But since You, Lord, are more than just Mercy, so is this “chesed.”  Think of every way that God acts and it is represented in this word “chesed.”  Skip Moen states “Hesed is the action of reciprocal obligation passed on to others.  You can’t sing this word without obeying God and blessing others.  It isn’t simply one of the lyrics in a song.  It is a call to act as God acts.  Sing hesed with your feet and hands.”  It’s the song that Jesus sings, the one He sang out loud for all of us to hear and see while He walked on earth.  It’s the song He wants us to be singing and doing with all our lives.  It’s the new song You’ve written in our hearts, Lord.

Which brings us to the walking humbly part.  Because it’s the song of obedience in love turned into action that we sing and act upon as we walk through this life, I learn to walk humbly with You, or rather in You.  Here’s this Hebrew word “halak.”  It’s a tattle tale kind of word.  By the way we “halak”, by the way we walk, we can know if we are in You or not.  The truth of the matter is, if I claim to live in You, then I will more that talk Your talk.  I’ll walk Your walk.  I’m not just making this up.  Here it is in 1 John 2:5,6, “Whoever keeps His Word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.  By this we may know that we are in Him:  whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.”

I say I abide in You, Jesus.  Therefore I ought to walk the same way You walked.  I’m not to spiritualize the way You walked.  I’m supposed to walk it.  This Greek verb, “peripateo,” is actually an idiom from Hebrew that is translated into Greek.  It’s that “halak” which is used to express a way of life.  My way of life is supposed to be just like Your way of life, Lord.  My feet ought to go and associate with the same kind of people You associated with.  I ought to be willing to sit down with the woman at the well,  I ought to be unafraid of touching the lepers.  I ought to surround myself with people in need of the love of Jesus no matter what “walk” of life they come from.  Because my walk in You ought to invite them wholeheartedly into Your walk.  It’s not at all about believing a philosophy or doctrine.  It’s about knowing You and living You out in my life.  What You do, I must do, if I am in You.  It’s not even about walking in the same direction.  It’s so much closer.  It’s like You seep out of me in this glorious way, and I am not complete unless I’m in the middle of where You are.

And frankly, if it’s really all about me walking with You right now, and every moment of my life, then I could give a hoot about whether I’m going to get a reward.  Because walking with You and the new fellowship it brings between us and others that are walking in You is the reward in itself.  See, YOU, LORD, ARE THE REWARD.  My reward is being in YOU!  You gave me this glorious life to live.  You gave me this even more glorious life to live in You and for You.  This is my purpose, this is what fulfills me, to live in You.  I was created for life.  Each of us was.  But not just life; we were each created for life in Christ, life in it’s utter fullness in the One Who Is Full.  This is my walk.  This is obedience.  This is love.  This is where joy comes from.

Joy comes in the walking.  I become a blessing to others through Him and I am filled with the joy of having fulfilled my duty to the One who is worthy of leading.  My reward is that I am included.  I am part of this!  I am part of what You, Lord, are doing.  The Holy One has invited me in to His work!  I get to do what He does.  I get to exhibit mishpat, hesed, and tsana yalak.  I get to be faithful!

And part of the faithfulness is walking humbly.  The whole phrase is “tsana yalak.”  That same word is used in Proverbs 11:2 in contrast to a word we dealt with the other day, Lord, –pride.  So this humbleness, this tsana, is just the opposite of what You identify as pride.  On the one hand we have “to be humble to walk” and on the other hand we have pride- “a presumpive arrogance that relies on human cunning, engineering and effort to secure personal status.”  You know, both are about what we do with authority.  Pride is all about self authority, but “tsana yalak” is all about God authority.  Only God authority lifts others up.  It’s not just letting You, God, rule over me.  It’s giving You rule over everything and everyone.  I can step back from a situation and let others decide their way because You really are in control.  You reign and You rule.  Not me.  So, when a door slams shut, I don’t have to fight it, because You are still in control.  I just surrender to You and wait for You to take action.  I look for the direction You want me to walk in each moment.  I invite others to walk with me, but I don’t force, because I’m not the one in charge.   

And the responses around me don’t change my response.  I continue to love the Lord my God with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my strength, and with all my mind; and my neighbor, well, I love them as much as the Lord loves me.  (Luke 10:27, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18).  I walk it out on all sides.  Under complete reign and rule of You, God, I act accordingly.  “Humility encompasses heart, soul, mind, strength, and relationships.”  (Skip Moen)  Anything less, well, then it’s not walking in humility, is it?

Yep, Micah 6:8, it’s a hefty requirement.  It’s a lot to measure up to.  And there is only one way I can measure up, because on my own, I fell short from the start.  But by the power of Christ in me, when I rely on You and live You out in my life, I can meet Your requirements because You have put them all inside of me.  It’s who You are and it’s who You are making me to be in You.  This is what life looks like when I abide in You.  Yes, this is life.  And this is where I want to be forever, right in the middle of You, with You, right in the middle of me, both of us, living You out in the middle of this world that needs You so badly.

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