When I was in college, I was caught up in external, visible displays of my faith. So much so, that I felt it was my calling to “check up” on the people in my circle of influence. I would often greet friends with, “Hi Lisa! How are you today? How was your quiet time?” And if she looked at me funny and said, “Quiet time? I didn’t have one today,” Inside I patted myself on the back, knowing that my walk with God was much better than hers. I was in better standing with God than she was.
I remember one day quite vividly. I was sitting at the kitchen table with one of my roommates, and she was telling me about how one of her professors had a significant spiritual impact on her life. When she finished her spiel, I said something to the effect of, How can he be a Christian? In class, he said that he and one of his friend did such and such … (an activity I was certain no true Christian would ever participate in.) At that moment, the Holy Spirit pierced my heart. I clapped my hand over my mouth.
God used this event, along with a series of others, to begin the process of changing my heart.
It’s easy to get caught up in trying to please the Lord with all the things we do. Serving on multiple committees and in various programs, daily (lengthy) quiet times, memorizing tons of Scripture, leading Bible studies, wearing Christian t-shirts and jewelry.
What is it that God really wants?
All of these expressions of faith are good and have their place. But unless they reflect the heart attitude God wants, they are nothing but noise (1 Corinthians 13).
In the Old Testament, when the Israelites were seeking to reestablish their relationship with God, the prophet Micah asked a series of rhetorical questions …
What can we bring to the Lord? Should we bring him burnt offerings? Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? (Micah 6:6-7)
And then he answered …
No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
He wasn’t disrespecting the Mosaic Law and sacrificial system that God had laid down in the Old Testament. Instead, Micah boiled it down to three simple things.
First, do what’s right. More literal translations of this verse say … to do justice, or to act justly. Caught up in our own worlds, it’s easy to forget about others, specifically those who are treated unjustly. Heaven forbid that we would treat others unjustly. But occasionally, even Christians are guilty of this. The ones who want to please God, actively seek justice in the circle of their influence.
Second, love mercy. Instead of showy signs of faith, show kindness and compassion. Forgive quickly and easily. When you see someone who is suffering–move in and meet their needs.
Third, walk humbly with God. This is authentic faith. It does not seek an audience. Instead, it lives quietly before God and others. In fact, when we walk humbly and authentically with God–the other two fall into place. Treating others kindly and fairly, and forgiving quickly, will reflect our relationship with God.
These simple instructions please God. These are what He requires.When we walk humbly & authentically with God, we treat others kindly & fairly. It is what God requires.Click To Tweet
Occasionally I find myself back in that showy trap. Sometimes absent and unaware of the needs of those around me. When I do, it doesn’t take God long to zing my heart with these truths. Sometimes it’s a gentle Holy Spirit nudge, like this morning while getting my kids ready for the day. Other times, I’m on the receiving end of someone else’s misplaced take on what pleases God.
Either way is fine with me. I’ll take the zing however God wants to deliver it.
I want to please God and love others the way He wants me to.
Image: Pixabay (Stefan Schweihofer)