Micah 6: 6-8
In starting this Christian Meditation series last week, I defined meditation as "deep thinking combined with prayer." In today's devotional, I will offer some stopping points for meditation. You can either stop at each one, save them up for the end, meditate on one each day until done, or however you want to address meditation.
What are God's requirements of us? Micah 6: 8 is a famous passage you may recognize, but instead of only reciting that lone verse, I want to look at its context by sharing the two previous verses.
With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 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.
Meditation 1: What gift, what tribute, would be enough to satisfy God and repay Him for giving us life and breath and all that exists? How can you instead pay tribute to God with your very life?
Let's break down the second part of verse 8 into its three components: Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God.
"Act justly" is often translated as some variation of "seek justice." I like the updated translation of "act justly," because "seeking" can seem like simply wishing, but "acting" makes it clear that we're expected to do something. The Bible, especially the Old Testament, talks a lot about justice, typically in terms of treatment of the poor, the immigrant, the widowed, the orphaned and the oppressed - basically, anyone who is not favored in society. There are orders for provision and for fair treatment toward those on the margins.
Meditation 2: Who are on the margins of our society, of my state, of my neighborhood? How can I do something to provide for them? How can I, personally, ensure that they are treated fairly? What does it even look like to be treated fairly?
The word "mercy" is used in various ways throughout the Bible. It can tell us of God's loving kindness, of His forgiveness and salvation, of His compassion and pity. We are to love this kind of mercy. Clearly this is also a call to emulate God's merciful qualities and actions as are under our capability.
Meditation 3: What does it mean to "LOVE mercy"? How do I embrace these qualities (loving kindness, forgiveness, etc.) to the point of making them habits? How would I rate on a "Mercy Scale" that considers my kindness, my forgiving nature, my compassion?
To "walk humbly with God" encompasses a couple of great thoughts. First, walking: In my upcoming book and existing video series "Live Like You're Loved," there's a section on walking with God daily as a part of experiencing eternal life even on earth. You'll hear Christians use phrases like "my Christian walk" or "Walk to Emmaeus" or other metaphors. But basically, it's considering how to walk with God each day as if He were right beside you (and through His Holy Spirit, He actually is beside you and within you!)
The second thought is of humility. Frankly, I think most of us probably complain a lot to God, mostly about our lack and our needs. God is certainly willing for us to cast our anxieties on Him in order to experience peace. That's not the same as treating God like a genie, which we tend to do. We go on this God-walk with humility. If you were walking alongside a famous teacher or pastor or expert, you might not attempt to do most of the talking. You would listen. You would ask questions. You would be humble in your approach. You would know your place in the conversation.
Meditation 4: What does it mean to me to walk daily with God, and how can I really do it? How can I walk alongside God in such a way where I speak but also listen?
Closing prayer: Lord, accept my tribute. Accept my life as a gift back to you. Teach me how to really put into practice these requirements of acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with you. I'm listening. Amen.
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