The Challenge – Day 1

So if my friend Nancy got the challenge right (she was challenged by someone in French), for seven days I am supposed to share a Bible verse that is meaningful to me.  I figured it just may be a good little exercise for me, so why not do a 7-day marathon blog of these verses? A good way to make me focus and think on them.

I’ll use Nancy as the inspiration for my first verse. When we were roommates in Greensboro in our little houses on Silver Ave. and Spring Garden (in our early 20s….not that long ago), Nancy had a sampler on our living room wall that I believe a friend had made her. It was a verse in Micah…..not a book of the Bible read often by a lot of people, but perhaps it should be. The verse was…

“He has shown you, O mortal, 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.” Micah 6:8 (NIV). 

Or in another translation…

The Lord God has told us what is right and what he demands: “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.” Micah 6:8 (CEV).

I love this verse, however you translate it. The last words of the verse were the ones on the sampler. The call to action. What great words to be reminded of daily! This book of the Bible was written by the prophet Micah and was a message particularly for the people of Samaria and Jerusalem, but so much of the story applies to us today. The leaders at the time were encouraging people’s focus to be on other things besides God. When a person’s focus is not on God, it leads us away from our purpose. 

Micah talks of idol worship, which we often pretend not to understand in today’s times….but what is idol worship besides saying something or someone else is more powerful than God? Why else would it frustrate God so much? When our eyes are enamoured elsewhere, we don’t notice who he is. When we don’t notice who he is, we miss out on much of what he has planned for us to see and do. That is always going to be better than our own way. A tour guide who has seen and knows the world (and especially one that made that world) can lead you to much more exciting places than you stumble upon yourself.

The issues the people were dealing with then are not much different than those we are dealing with now. Does this sound familiar? 

“So listen to my message, you rulers of Israel! You hate justice and twist the truth. You make cruelty and murder a way of life in Jerusalem. You leaders accept bribes for disobedient decisions. You priests and prophets teach and preach, but only for money.” Micah 3:9-11 (CEV)

But God….

He made it simple for them. For us. If they (we) looked to him, they (we) would know the secret of living a good and fulfilling and truly important life. He “required” this. He “demanded” it. It must be important.

“See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.”

The next election is teeing up in the U.S., and we get to choose our leaders. Yes, I know most seem like a bunch of buffoons at the moment, but truth is that God will have skin in the game. It’s a privilege to be involved. Don’t be too quick to judge someone based on political party, because of their work or church or family resume, or because of their pretty words. Think about those leaders in the Bible that God chose, that proved worthy to the task. Often based on their past history or current demeanor they would not have been our choice, now, would they? But how do they make their decisions? What will be their guide?

In our world, in our country, in our lives, our thoughts need to be on justice (I like the synonym “fairness” or “right”). What is right? What is true? What makes sense? What is righteous?

I had a business class once where we would play a game where the teacher would give us a situation and ask us the questions “Is it legal?” “Is it moral?” and “Is it ethical?” You would think the answers should all be consistent. They weren’t. That game fascinated me. (I think I have talked about it in a prior blog….and reserve the right to talk of it in the future!)  It totally captivated me and the three hour class would fly by. I used to add a question at the end, for stretching my own mind and because I thought it was in the end most important, “Is it right?” It wasn’t an easy exercise. Give it a try. Pick up any news story….you can probably find a subject for which those questions will give interesting answers. We really all should be thinking these things through on an ongoing basis.

I may surprise you by revealing I am more of a justice girl than a merciful one. I try to work on the mercy, with varying degrees of success. But this verse says mercy needs to come first. It says we need to love it. Not have a loving feeling for it….truly commit to making it an active priority. So, let’s define “mercy” as compassionate treatment. How do our decisions actually touch people? They may be “right”, but are they “compassionate”? Do we consider all of those impacted before we make a decision? 

Oh, we definitely don’t need to throw justice out of the window and apply some sort of namby pamby mercy….but justice must be administered with mercy coming first. With compassion. With loving kindness.

Then there’s obedience. What does God say about any particular issue? As we study the God of scripture, what is he about? What matters to him? We aren’t supposed to just obey him, we’re supposed to humbly obey him. I always think that “humbly” should be defined as “it’s not all about you”. We need to look at God, and not just in our mirror. We need to make it personal, though. If we don’t learn about God for ourselves (studying God in our own relationship and not just relying on the second hand experience of others), how can we obey him? But if we are thinking of ourselves first, is it possible to obey God humbly?
This is a great verse for our times and for our decision making. God has shown us how to live best. We  don’t make decisions with careless abandon, but instead we stay by the side of God, always knowing we have more to learn. We consider mercy for all involved, loving over our own emotions. And we act justly. Always. Personalize it….it wasn’t written just for those in Samaria and Jerusalem, for leaders and rulers. The truth endures today. This is a verse for you….and me.

“He has shown you, O mortal, 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.” Micah 6:8 (NIV). 

(I think I am supposed to nominate two people a day to join me in this little exercise, but being the rebel I am, and encouraging that in others, I don’t want to force anyone. I’ll just say this. If you need to think about and/or share a few verses in your Facebook world, consider yourself challenged. You don’t have to get as wordy as me and blog on it….unless you want to…or even share it on Facebook. You can just think on them yourself or share with one or two around you. Go where God leads you. But sometimes a challenge can take you to interesting places. If you’re not accepting an occasional challenge I think you’re missing out on an interesting part of life. Plus there’s nothing like talking about something in public to help you refine your thinking…and sometimes make you exercise courage. As a reminder….today we’re going to try walking humbly next to God. That means being open and teachable, but also knowing God, our greatest defender and only true judge, is standing beside us.)


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