Summary: When we walk humbly with God, our life will demonstrate the characteristics that are evident in God himself. The evidence of our walk will be witnessed in our acts of kindness, mercy, compassion, justice and the like.
The moderator of a Presbyterian church in Melbourne, Australia, gave J. Hudson Taylor a flattering introduction. When the founder of the China Inland Mission stepped into the pulpit, he quietly said, “Dear friends, I am a little servant of an illustrious Master,” The late A. W. Tozer was once presented to a congregation in similar manner, and his response was, “All I can say is, dear God, forgive him for what he said--and forgive me for enjoying it so much!”
— James L. Snyder -- Minister in Christian and Missionary Alliance and award winning author.
After preaching a sermon on humility one day, a woman approached the pastor and said to him, "Pastor, humility is my forte."
This morning we conclude our three week summer series on, “What God Desires,” from Micah 6:8. If you haven’t guessed it by now, we ask the question, what does Micah mean by the phrase, “walk humbly?”
On our journey to this point, the words of the prophet Micah have helped us to understand that sacrificial worship is pointless unless it is supported with obedience. Accordingly God requires that we “Act Justly,” “Love Mercy,” and “Walk Humbly.”
To act justly means to do what is right. Justice is rooted in God’s character and so it is therefore seen as a quality found in a person who loves God. Those people who love him work for fairness and equality for all, particularly the weak and the powerless that are exploited by others.
Loving mercy or loving kindness is also a character trait of God. Human beings who love God are to display loving kindness and faithfulness toward each other, especially the poor, the weak and needy. God’s desire is to build righteous faith communities willing to display their love for God, by loving people. Jesus died on the cross in order that we might choose to love God, in response to his act of loving kindness, his act of mercy. God knew that human beings could not love by their own volition. So now, our religious practice, our rituals and sacrifices are no longer needed.
Before we continue let’s once again look at the prophet Micah’s words of advice in 6:8.
The purpose of the phrase “walk humbly” is different to the two previous phrases. You will recall that both justice and loving kindness are character traits of God. These traits are to be emulated by those who claim to love the Lord. You will notice that they indicate how we should treat others.
I guess one could argue that humility is a character trait of God; one that we could also emulate. But this is not what is being communicated here. Micah is telling us through this phrase that God is concerned with us having a right and proper relationship with him. For he adds, “walk humbly – with your God.” Be in right relationship with God, and you cannot fail.
All throughout ancient Israel’s history we find a pattern or cycle of rebellion. God promised to bless his people if they would remain faithful to him. This is the basis of the covenant that he formed with his people. God presented the people of God laws by which they demonstrated their faithfulness to him. The people of God rejected their laws, putting in place their own laws. The people even blamed God for their own misguided actions. The people did not walk humbly with God. They walked proudly in disobedience. So when they came to the temple to offer their acts of worship, God rejected their acts.
Micah called for the people to remember that any good found in them was due to the Lord’s enabling. God required from those who claimed the Lord as their God, proof of a godly lifestyle. And what does God then require: faith. To walk humbly was (and is to this day) to live by faith. Such faith sought to give God first place instead of usurping it for oneself. Jesus himself uses Micah 6:8 to give the same message in Matthew.
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23:23)
In this we find three familiar requisites for pleasing God; “justice, mercy and faithfulness.” Now before we begin to think that ethics and duty are a sufficient substitution for worship, we must back up. The question asked by Micah is not intended that we believe that worship practices are corrupt and not merited. We cannot save ourselves through kindly acts of equity and fairness. Nor is Micah attacking the worship practices established in the tabernacle and temple (throughout the Old Testament). It is however a call for men and women, to demonstrate the reality of their faith by living it out in everyday life.