This is one of the great questions in the Scriptures. The prophet, Micah, represents the people as asking: “Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, 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?” Then, in verse 8, the prophet answers in his own person the questions in verses 6 and 7 under the heading, “What doth the Lord require of thee?”
LET US OBSERVE SOME GENERAL FACTS IN THIS QUESTION…
- The Lord has requirements for His people. These requirements are established by the Lord. He is the one who has been sinned against and it is He that has the right to determine what man must do to be forgiven. The Lord’s requirements are never impossible for man to comply with. John states that His commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:3).
- The Lord’s requirements are precise and exacting. Man is never to be left in doubt as to what the Lord requires. This principle is quite evident throughout the Scriptures. The prophet stated what the Lord required with exactness…“but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
- There is a personal obligation to these requirements. “…and what doth the Lord require of thee…?” The emphasis is upon “thee.” Requirements must be met by the individual. They are without respect of persons. The king and queen, the rich and the poor have the same requirements. (Acts 10:34-35). The requirements are the same in principle in all the ages, but the commandments that must be followed to produce these principles have varied in God’s dealings with man. What constituted doing justly for the Israelites is not the same in every respect for the Christian. The Israelites were to follow the Law of Moses with its ceremonies while the Christian is under the law of Christ. (James 1:25).
- The requirements are both external and internal in nature. Though they are basically internal, the external must not be denied. The Israelite was to bring his sacrifice to God; however, it was to be something more than a formal service. The formal obedience or sacrifice is no good without the heart. In this age we are to worship God in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24). There are always the two sides of every act of obedience. We must do what God has required and we must do it with the proper motivation. Obedience without love is nothing. “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (or love), it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:3). Again, “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” (Gal. 5:6).
“WHAT DOTH THE LORD REQUIRE OF THEE?” (Micah 6:8)
Their worship is in reality, made unacceptable because of their failure to do as God had required in their daily living. The following passages detail these failures: 1:5, 7; 2:1-2; 3:1-3; 6:10-12, 16; 7:2-4, 6. - ‘Do Justly’ . This involves the fairly demanded duties both toward God and toward men. We are not to seek to damage the reputation of another. The “Golden Rule” is to be acted upon (Matthew 7:12). We are unjust toward God when we withhold time, wealth and influence which we are able to devote to Him. We are also unjust toward our ‘fellow brethren’ when we withhold time, wealth and influence with which we have opportunity to do. Doing justly should characterize us in all our relationships. - ‘Love Mercy’ . By context here, ‘loving mercy’ means to love/show mercy to others. 1 John 4:19-21 says “We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” We should act toward others as did God for us in the sending of His only begotten Son. Remember, having ‘mercy’ extended to us from God is seen by not getting what we deserve! We deserved to suffer and die for our sins...but God was merciful and provided His own Son to suffer and die for our sins. We should likewise be merciful and seek to save others. Otherwise, our ‘sacrifices’ will be unacceptable. We can certainly “...bestow goods to feed the poor, and...give...body to be burned, and have not charity...”. - ‘To walk humbly with thy God’ . Our obedience must be willingly and totally submissive to the will of God in all that He commands. This truly involves faith in God. (Heb. 11:6; Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:7). His commands are always for our good (Deut. 6:24). It is faith that motivates one to thus do whatever God commands. (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rev. 2:10) Doing what the Lord requires of thee is that which determines who will be in heaven. Heaven will be the home of those who have responded to God’s requirements. It is so easy for us to manufacture what God requires rather than to listen to what is stated by God in the Scriptures. We should never lose sight of the fact that it is the Lord who does the requiring. We may wonder sometimes why He requires what He does. Even then, we must leave the “why” with the Lord and be content with doing what He says. Are we truly ‘walking by faith and not by sight’? (2 Cor. 5:7)
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.