As we try to live our lives for God, the question can be daunting: What does God require from me…really?

The easy answer is that He requires everything.

He wants our lives.

He wants our hearts.

He wants our perfect obedience.

That’s not wrong, but wouldn’t it be better if we could just ask Him directly?

Fortunately, that’s exactly what the people did. In Micah 6:8, after the prophet Micah lists out a long list of accusations in Micah 6:1-5, the people respond by asking what God is really after:

“With what shall I come to the Lord

And bow myself before the God on high?

Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings,

With yearling calves?

Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams,

In ten thousand rivers of oil?

Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts,

The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

Micah 6:6-7

Those are logical assumptions. After all, if I’m begging for forgiveness from the God of the universe, I’d probably offer Him everything too.

Fortunately, God’s response is super simple, and contained in one verse: “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.”

Simple. Kind of.

What Does God Require of Us?

Any study of the Minor Prophets can be intimidating. There are a lot of allusions and prophecies, not to mention the historical context that needs to be taken into consideration.

In light of that, Micah 6:8 is surprisingly refreshing. There are three main parts.

Do Justice

The Jews in the Old Testament had a real problem with justice. In nearly every book, there are statements made about how they “make widows” (Ezekiel 22:25),”plunder” orphans (Isaiah 10:2), or accept bribes (Amos 5:12).

It’s an inversion of what they were supposed to do.

By definition, justice is the preservation of what is right and wrong. To see things the way that the Lord God sees them – and has declared them to be – is our task.

The Jews hadn’t done that. Instead, they constantly manipulated the situation to do what was in their own best interest.

Strike one.

Love Mercy

In Scripture, mercy is usually seen as caring for those who can’t care for themselves.

Its normal application is in regards to God’s mercy for us; when we sin, we need God’s mercy to make it right. Some translations also render that phrase as “love kindness.”

Regardless, the Jews weren’t known for their mercy (as a group). Micah 2:8-9 charges them with evicting people from their homes and stealing from travelers. Not exactly items you want on your docket.

Strike two.

Walk Humbly With God

This one almost seems silly. After all, who would knowingly walk arrogantly in their disposition towards God?

Ironically, it seems like the Jews’ privileged status as God’s people led to this mentality. They were chosen by God – and they knew it. As such, they had little problem treating other people like dirt.

This arrogance would be flipped on its head in Micah 2:3-5. The people are told that their reputation would be gone, allowing people to look at them as a disgrace, rather than a beacon to the world around them.

The application for us is very similar. As Christians, it’s easy to walk around with an air of superiority. In reality, God calls on us to recognize the grace that is given to us and walk humbly towards others, especially God.

Strike three.

Lessons From Micah 6:1-8

These verses are sneaky difficult. Whether we realize it or not, most of us don’t live our lives according to the three very simple commands laid out in Micah 6:8.

We don’t (always) love justice, we don’t (always) extend mercy, and we don’t (always) walk humbly toward God. For that reason, those commands – while they may look simple – can be difficult.

Here are a few lessons we can pull away from this passage to help open our eyes a bit.

God Doesn’t Care About the Same Things We Do

Isn’t that fascinating? We believe – in all our almighty knowingness – that we and God value the same things.

And while that may be true (hopefully), it oftentimes isn’t. We esteem money and status and power, while God values things like mercy, humility, and justice.

This is on full display in James 2:1-7. There, James describes a church that sees two men. One is dressed like a pauper, the other dressed like a prince.

The natural response is to treat the one in fine clothes with favoritism, while ignoring the other one completely. After all, can’t the other one offer us more?

Godliness values each equally. A person who values the type of thing God values doesn’t look at either of them as being superior simply because of their attire. Rather, it values who they are.

Worshipping With an Immoral Heart Makes God Angrier

Just because we worship the same way as each other doesn’t mean that God is equally pleased with us.

If, for instance, you have two men in a single assembly who amen the same prayers, sing the same songs, and take the same Lord’s Supper, there would be virtually no difference between the two.

At least, on the surface there wouldn’t be.

Spiritually, one of them may be bankrupt. He may be someone who cheats the numbers on his tax returns, tells a dirty joke at company retreats, and watches internet pornography while his wife is out of the room.

Knowing that, do you think God would view each of those men as the same? Most likely not.

In fact, Isaiah 1:10-15 argues that worship – even when it’s truthful to the Scriptures – makes God angrier when it’s performed by someone who is obstinately living a life of sin.

That was the real problem with the Jews, wasn’t it? They had no problem making sure they were there at every feast, but things like justice, mercy, and humility took a backseat.

If our private life is lived in rebellion to Him, there are no amount of songs, sermons, and prayers that we can recite that will erase that. Clean the cup, then offer your worship to Him.

What God Wants is Simpler Than What We Want

The way we exact revenge on others is scary. If someone crosses us (mistakenly or not), there’s no corner of the earth we won’t make them travel to in order to make it right.

Can you imagine if God made us do that?

What if, instead of simply repenting and asking for forgiveness, God made us beg and plead. Then, once we’re done with our 100 self-inflicted lashes, we needed to do some kind of extreme endurance challenge to prove our sorrow.

Even if we did that, would it come close to making up for an offense towards God?

This is the exact question that is asked in Micah 6:8: How do we make up for what we’ve done?

It’s also the exact question that was asked by the people on Pentecost in the New Testament: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:38)

The truth is that God asks us to do very little in comparison to what He could ask us to do. Instead of taking that for granted, what we should really do is use that model when extending forgiveness to others.

What Does God Require of You?

It’s hard for any of us to arrive at this point. To ask a question like the one in Micah 6:8 – “what does God require of me?” – requires deliberate introspection. It requires us to dive into our souls and examine where we stand.

Failure to do that will result in us spinning our religious wheels as we labor fruitlessly for things that truly don’t matter.

Be honest with God and yourself, on the other hand, and you may find the greatest grace that you’ll ever find in this world. And, more importantly, one that leads to eternal life.

Last modified: November 28, 2022