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A WORD FOR TODAY, July 22, 2021
“How shall I come before Yahweh, and bow myself before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams? With tens of thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my disobedience? The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:6-8, WEB
The question this week is from Micah 6: “What does the LORD require of you?” We know that there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, but what does God demand from those who have been saved? It may seem impossible for us to live up to the expectations of our holy and perfect God, but He gives us what we need to try, and by His grace we do much more than we ever think we can. It isn’t easy, but with God all things are possible.
Fifteen years ago I wrote about how I never wanted a cell phone. We got along just fine without them for most of our lives and previous generations would never have imagined the convenience of being accessible wherever they went. It made sense for Bruce to have a phone, especially when he was dealing with a sick airman and his family. He was often away from the office and working odd hours. It was not only difficult for us to contact him, but it was also difficult for those at work when he was dealing with the airman. I eventually gave in and got one, too. Now I can’t imagine life without it.
Cell phones have developed so much since those days, but there’s always been the question of abuse. Too many people keep their nose in their phones and they don’t pay attention to the world. This is dangerous when driving; it is discourteous when in the presence of those we love. The technology can be used to cheat. It is also a distraction to have cell phones go off in the middle of a meeting.
However, cell phones can be an even greater and more dangerous nuisance. There was a game that swept the world called “Happy Slapping.” Young people chose a victim and beat them while filming the attack on their cell phones. The video was then sent to friends or posted on the Internet. It is meant to be a joke, to humiliate the victim. This practice has led to the deaths of several people and many injuries. The technology that was in many ways very good and helpful is being misused and abused by people all over the world. There have been many other challenges or games that were harmful to others.
“Happy slapping” was not really a new crime. People have committed violence against others while videotaping the event ever since it has been possible. However, it has become so convenient. For a criminal a decade or two ago, a videotaped crime had to be carefully planned because it would take extra work to set up the filming equipment. Now kids can decide at the spur of the moment to harm someone and have the video all over the world in a matter of minutes.
In ancient times, sacrifice was an important part of the ritualistic aspects of the people’s faith. Through the physical act of slaughtering an animal or offering the first fruits of their labor, the people saw the redemption of their sins. It was not a bad thing. Sacrifice served a very important purpose. However, good things can be misused and abused. For some, the ritual of sacrifice was nothing more than a “get-out-of-jail-free” card. They could sin against their fellow man, offer a sacrifice and feel as though they are still right with God. This still happens today, although in different types of sacrifices. In this text from Micah, we see that God does not require or even desire sacrifice. He desires justice, loving kindness and a humble heart. “Happy Slapping” is far from just, loving or kind.
When we do things to hurt someone we love, what do we do? When we have a spat with our spouse, we buy flowers or a gift. When we do something that hurts a friend, we call them to apologize or offer to take them for lunch. When we sin against God, what do we do? In the Old Testament, the people had certain sacrifices that needed to be done to atone for their sins. They offered rams or other animals to be cleansed of the sins that separated them from God. The text from Micah asked, “What does the LORD require of you?” There was a time when the requirement was blood, but God found a better way.
God gave His own son as the final bloody sacrifice and now requires so much more of those who have been saved by His grace. And yet, His demands are now so much more attainable because He gives us all we need to do what He wants us to do. God paid the debt; He offered the sacrifice for our sins. Now, God requires us to walk in His light and act according to His Word in our lives and He gives us the Holy Spirit to do so. Justice, mercy and humility are the best we can do, and we honor our God by being the best we can be.
A WORD FOR TODAY is posted five days a week – Monday through Friday. The devotional on Wednesday takes a look at the scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary for the upcoming Sunday. A WORD FOR TODAY is posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Word-for-Today-Devotional/339428839418276. Like the page to receive the devotion through Facebook. For information and to access our archives, visit http://www.awordfortoday.org.