What Is It That Pleases God? Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
It says something else in verse 8. It says that we must love mercy. We must take pleasure in it, as our God does, and we must be glad for any opportunity to do good, and we must do it cheerfully. Mercy is described as the characteristic of God’s love that causes Him to help the miserable, just like grace is the quality of His love that causes Him to forgive the guilty.
Those folks who are miserable may be that way either because they have broken God’s law, or because of circumstances beyond their control. It’s hard for us to understand why God shows compassion toward those who have broken His law because it is not deserved. God’s mercy is more than punishment that is withheld. Withholding punishment, keeps us from going to hell, but it does not get us into heaven. God’s mercy is greater than that.
God also shows mercy, by helping those who are miserable due to circumstances beyond their control. We see this side of His mercy, especially in the life of Jesus, when He healed blind men and lepers. These acts of healing grew out of His feelings of compassion and mercy.
Finally, because God is merciful, He expects His children to be merciful. The text says that we must walk humbly with our God. This includes obeying all ten of His Commandments. We must make Jesus Lord of our lives, and worship Him, and cling to Him, and try to please Him with all of our might. Enoch was said to walk with God, and from Hebrews 11:5, we know that means that his life was pleasing to God. That can be an example for us.
If we are to please Him, we must conform ourselves to His Son, and keep up our close association with Him, and study His Word. And we must do it all humbly. We must humble ourselves to walk with God. Every thought must be brought into obedience to Him, if we are to walk comfortably with Him. These are the things that God requires from us, and if we don’t do them, anything else we do will not be accepted by Him.
This is more than all the burnt-offerings and sacrifices. We are talking about humility, that grows out of the recognition that all we have and all we are comes from God. The Greek philosophers despised humility, because to them it implied failure, and a lack of dignity, and worthlessness. But this is not the meaning of humility that is defined by the Bible. Jesus is the supreme example of humility, and He is certainly sufficient, and He has unlimited dignity and value.
Biblical humility does not involve belittling ourselves; rather, it’s a matter of exalting or praising others, especially God and Christ. Humble people focus more on God and others than on themselves. Biblical humility is also the recognition by us, that by ourselves we are inadequate, without dignity and worthless. Yet, because we are created in God’s image and because believers are in Christ, we have infinite worth and dignity. True humility does not produce pride, but instead, it produces gratitude. Since God is both our Creator and Redeemer, our existence and righteousness depend on Him.
I want to conclude with this.
What we are talking about is sacrificial living; it is saying to God, “here is my life. A sacrifice is an offering that is acceptable to God. To live sacrificially means to offer your entire life to God. Such a sacrifice is acceptable to God only because of what Jesus has done in you. He is the final and complete Sacrifice for the sins of the world. Micah knew that lavish offerings were not acceptable to God. David and Isaiah knew that what made us acceptable to God was “a repentant heart.”
Paul said that we are to be “a living sacrifice.” He said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). You can never match what Jesus did for us by His sacrificial death, and God doesn’t ask us to do so, but your sacrifices are to be complete and sincere. Being a living sacrifice means obeying the greatest commandments: giving God all your love, all your will, all your reason, and even your body. And then Jesus says that we are to love others as we love ourselves. However, no expression of love, no matter how expensive, matches the price paid by Christ.
There are many men and women whose lives are examples of living sacrifices, but allow me to give you just one.
The best preachers and missionaries are very often those who were saved from degraded lifestyles. Raymond Lull, for example, grew up on the island of Majorca off the Spanish coast in the Mediterranean, caring only for himself. His father was wealthy and powerful, and a friend of the king. Lull, lived an immoral life, even after his marriage and the birth of two children. But one day at age 32, he was stricken with guilt. He pictured Christ suffering on the cross, and he was converted. The island of Majorca was controlled by Muslims, and gradually the young man felt a desire to reach the Islamic world for Christ. After providing for his wife and children, Lull gave away the rest of his possessions. He studied extensively for several years, learning the Arabic language and all he could about both Christianity and Islam. With the king’s help, he established a school on Majorca for the training of missionaries. He lectured, wrote, and preached far and wide.
Then he began his actual missionary work at the age of 55, targeting North Africa, and the Muslim faith. His ministry was shaky, at first. After having announced that he would depart for Tunis, Lull was joined by well-wishers at the port at Genoa, Italy. But he was suddenly overwhelmed by the fear of the possibility that he might be killed. He asked for his belongings to be unloaded, and the ship sailed without him. But he quickly recovered his courage and caught the next ship for Tunis. He soon discovered that his fears were well-founded. He found himself in constant danger, and living a fugitive’s life. He was eventually arrested, deported, and stoned on his way to the boat. But he couldn’t stay away, and he made repeated trips into North Africa, even though his life was always at risk. In his 70s and well into his 80s, Lull was preaching to Muslims. Finally, Lull was seized, dragged out of town, and stoned. He died shortly afterward. But he advanced Christian missions like no one else, and he paved the way for those missionaries who followed him into the mission field. Raymond Lull was certainly a living sacrifice.
Folks, ask yourself, “What offering should I bring when I bow down to worship my God?” Should I try to please him by sacrificing calves a year old? No, that won’t help, and we don’t do that type of thing! The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands. It’s right there in verse 8.
“See that justice is done,
Let mercy be your first concern,
And humbly obey your God.”
Micah 6:8 is not the gospel. We are not saved by obeying these words, but we cannot obey them unless we are saved. Our religious words and deeds mean nothing to God if we lack the nature that is created by the Holy Spirit, as we yield to Him.
Now we know what pleases God, so let’s pray and ask Him to help us always to do the right thing, and to show mercy to others, and to humbly obey Him.