What Does God Want? (Pt. 3)

Part One: IntroPart Two: Justice Part Three: Loving Mercy Part Four: Walking Humbly with God

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

It's more than interesting that we are told to do justice, but love mercy (kindness). Of course, we must love and do both, but I believe the emphasis laid on each is important.

As I explained in the previous post of this series, God wants us to do more than talk about justice. He requires that we be the voice and hands of justice in our dealings with each other and the world. God calls us to be a people of justice because he is a God of justice, and it is our privilege and joy to reflect his character. Here he calls us to love mercy, not to just do it. Just as it is easier for many to love the idea of justice rather than carry it out, it is often easier for the Christian to practice mercy without loving it.

We all know that Jesus calls us to forgive, share, and bless the unworthy. But how often do we do what is right with clenched teeth, performing merely out of a sense of duty and not love? Isn't it possible to apologize while harboring pride, or give away what we hate to lose? How often do we do the right thing with the wrong attitude?

But God calls us to love mercy, not just do it, because he cares about the heart. Simply put, performance is not enough (Mt. 9:13; 12:7). Doing the right thing is not all that God is looking for. The will of God for his people is more than action - it includes affection. We could say that true spirituality is heart religion, intensely personal, and works itself out publicly for the good of others.

So it is mercy that moves the church to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, and forgive those who have sinned against us. It is a loving heart that gives such actions their strength and points others to Christ. And when I say mercy moves the church to act, I mean you. The will of God is for his people to get directly involved in the lives of others. Going to a church that has a good outreach to the homeless, single parents, etc. is good, but it does not absolve you of your responsibility to do justice and love mercy personally. What does God want? He wants us all to love him and our neighbor so much that our lives are characterized by both faith and works, passion and the pursuit of what is right, compassion for others that flows from a compassion we have received from God. A love for the works of mercy reveals that God's kingdom is truly here.

Look for the opportunities God places in your life each week to love and practice kindness to those around you. You should be able to find many who are in need. Respond as Christ responded and you will be walking in the will of God. As for me, I know what I need to do; something I have been slow to pursue, but haunts me every week. I will share how this turns out next week. For me, it is time to repent, and follow God's will.