6 With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Burnt offerings with calves a year old… In the Old testament, many laws were given concerning sacrifices to be offered to the Lord. There were specific rituals, appropriate time and place to make the offerings, the ‘right’ kind of animals to bring. The purpose of the offering is to make atonement for the sins of the offerer. To atone is to make up or make amends, to give something to pay for a wrong done.
Micah asked: What shall I bring before God to make reparations for my sins? Is it following the rules of making sacrifices?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
How about thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Big numbers! Perhaps the more, the better? Shall I offer even a part of myself – my child? Like what Abraham did? Would everything and the best of what I have be enough to pay for my sin?
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
God does not merely give an answer. He shows the way to the answer. In fact, He tells us so specifically what He wants.
What do I have to do? Three action words: to act, to love and to walk.
To act justly. Justice is more than a concept. It requires action to be useful. To act justly is to do what is right when there is a wrong. God is just and righteous. To act justly is to be as God is. He is always concerned for the marginalised – those who are poor and needy; the widows, the orphans and the foreigners. To act justly is to be on the side of the poor and needy. To speak for the voiceless and help the helpless.
To love mercy. Mercy is compassion. To love mercy is to be compassionate to the one who does wrong. God is just and righteous. Yet He is also merciful. I am a sinner. I deserve punishment for my sins. God in His mercy, did not give me what I deserve. As God is merciful to me, so should I be compassionate to the one who does me wrong.
How do I act justly and how can I love mercy? Only by walking humbly with my God. To walk with God is to be in sync with God’s footsteps – to love as He loves, to do as He does. To walk humbly with God is to depend on God. Humility is none of me and all of God. I can do nothing without God. To walk humbly is to acknowledge that I cannot do it alone.
Christmas is God’s justice and mercy working together in love and action. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus is God’s Son and God’s gift to me. What do I give this Christmas? What is good to give?
God has shown me, a mortal, what is good. To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God. So help me God.