Summary: Besure you want to know what God expects before you ask.
Title: What Can We Do For God?
The Big Idea: Be sure you want to know what God expects before you ask.
The clip we are going to see this morning is one of those Art Linkletter, “Kids Say the Darndest Things” skits. There are several children in a Sunday School setting responding to questions about God.
Let’s look at the clip… Project God 101 (worshiphousemedia.com)
In some ways, another title for our discussion today would be to address the question: What makes God happy? What can we do that would please God?
What can we do for God? The question infers that God has needs, which gives theologians pause, because if God is a needy God, then how can God be God?
A.W. Tozer wrote in his little book The Knowledge of the Holy “nothing is necessary to God. No one is necessary. And if no one is necessary, then not we.” (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 39)
John 5:26 states, “The Father has life in himself, and he has granted his Son to have life in himself.” That means God does not need anything to exist. We need air to breath, food to eat, and water to drink in order to live. God exists in and of himself. God is self-sufficient… nothing is necessary.
So the question this morning is not about God’s neediness but our desire to do something in response to God’s goodness in our lives.
Referring once again to Tozer, he suggests that it is for us to “spend ourselves for the honor of God and the good of mankind.” (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 43)
Interestingly, God is no more or no less God if we are good people or if we are bad people. We neither add to God nor diminish God by our actions. And yet our actions are either honoring to God or they are not. Our lives either please God or they do not. God is not more God if we please him or less God if we do not… God remains self-sufficient. God does not need our obedience in order to be God. So if God has no needs, it is legitimate to ask, what are God’s expectations? What would be pleasing and honoring to God. That is the question raised in our text today.
The setting is something of a courtroom drama. The way God’s people had been living did not please God, so God is bringing charges against his people in court, so to speak. He called in the mountains to be jurors and listen to his case against them. God reminds his people of how much he has loved them and asks them to remember how he has faithfully watched over them over the years.
Of course what follows is intended to be rhetorical, but suddenly it seems as if the people realize that they have blown it and ask, “What does God require of us or what do we need to do to make up for the wrong we’ve done?”
Notice how the human response escalates to exaggerated proportions:
Should we offer God offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer God thousands of rams? Should we offer God rivers of olive oil? Would that please God? Should we offer God our first born? Would that make God glad? Micah 6:6-7
The early church father, Turtullian, referred to this response as a human attempt to flatter God or pander to God. (Ancient Christian Commentary, XIV, The Twelve Prophets, p. 170-172) A flatterer or a panderer is someone who exploits or caters to another person’s weakness in an attempt to buy them off, persuade them, or appease them with words or some kind of offer.
The obvious parallel is that people mistakenly think they can stay in God’s good graces by observing the rituals, so to speak, of our spiritual practice. Perhaps there is even the remote thought that if we do something extravagant we might even humor God. Our text couches the ritual in the language of the sacrificial system. In I Corinthians 13, Paul couches ritual in terms of spiritual gifts like speaking in other tongues, prophecy, faith, and martyrdom. He concludes that possessing and demonstrating spiritual gifts apart from love, makes the gift a useless gift. We might link baptism, confirmation, a profession of faith, church attendance at worship, etcetera, etcetera, as those things necessary to keep God happy with us.
Our text says that God has expectations of us.
1. God has expectations beyond what is understood as routine religious practice.
Then the prophet gets right down to business in verse 8 where he says, “No, O people, the Lord has already told you what is good, and this is what he requires…” Micah 6:8