I have PTSD—Post Traumatic School Disorder. Every September, the temptations toward getting demoralized arrive. It’s the most miserable time of the year. Summer is over, and school is starting. I haven’t been to school in years, but those ill feelings still taunt.
I don’t want to say I hated school…because a teacher might read this. Honestly, I didn’t go to school because I love to learn. I didn’t go to school to see my friends--I could see them at 3:15. I went to school in order to not go to school. I just wanted to get it over with, graduate and get out!
The way I survived in school was to search for the bottom line. I didn’t care about the syllabus, I just wanted to know what was on the test.
We couldn’t ask. The kid that raised his hand and asked indifferently, “Is this going to be on the test?” was really asking for the teacher to lower his grade. But every once in a while a teacher would bestow a great gift by admitting, “Pay attention, this will be on the test!”
Wouldn’t it be great if life told us its bottom line? Wouldn’t it be great if God just came out with it and told us what was on the test? I think most of us would really like to know God’s will for our lives, we really want to know what God’s plans are for us and we really want to know what God wants from us.
The good news is God has actually done that.
God used a prophet named Micah, which means "who is like God?" to tell His people the bottom line. In chapter 6, Micah asks a great question:
What offering should I bring when I bow down to worship the Lord God Most High? Should I try to please him by sacrificing calves a year old? Will thousands of sheep or rivers of olive oil make God satisfied with me? Should I sacrifice to the Lord my first-born child as payment for my terrible sins?--Micah 6:6-7 (CEV)
Micah asks, “What’s on the test?” Then he answers his own question:
He has shown you, O man, 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.--Micah 6:8 (NIV)
Micah announces that God wants us to do three things:
A: Act Justly
Simply put, we’re supposed to do the right thing.
If you would do what is right, you would find my words comforting.--Micah 2:7 (NLT)
Micah lived in a culture known for lying, cheating, and taking advantage of others. They didn’t do the right thing. The culture hasn’t changed that much. We are used to lying, cheating and taking advantage of people.
Two roaches were munching on garbage in an alley when one engages a discussion about a new restaurant. "I was in that new restaurant across the street," said one. "It's so clean! The kitchen is spotless, and the floors are gleaming white. There is no dirt anywhere--it's so sanitary that the whole place shines." "Please," said the other roach frowning. "Not while I'm eating!"
We are used to doing the wrong thing.
Recently my wife and I took and anniversary trip to Coeur d’Alene. We drove by the scene of the crime. When I was four-years-old, I was in in Duncan’s grocery store in CdA. I walked through the produce department, saw some grapes, instinctively took a couple and ate them. Mortified, I suddenly realized that I had just stolen something. Then Mr. Duncan walked by and I didn’t confess. That was my first remembrance of clearly not doing the right thing.
Since then I have gotten a lot better at not doing the right thing. I try, but I fail the first part of the test.
B: Love Mercy
We’re supposed to love mercy. We love a lot of things, but do we love mercy?
A friend made a pretty big blunder, he did the wrong thing. Another friend commented, “He shouldn’t expect to get any mercy from the cops, the courts or the congregation.”
Wow, is that our culture—even in church? We’re bent on throwing stones rather than throwing out, “Go and sin no more.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.”
And it’s rare. I want mercy for myself, and justice for everybody else. But I’m supposed to be full of righteousness and full of mercy. Who does that?
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago. (Micah 7:18-20 NIV)
Who is like God? That’s what Micah’s name meant, and he says it back to God as he described God’s mercy.
I need it, but I fail. I’m 0 for 2
C: Walk Humbly
Walk humbly. What does it look like to walk humbly? I guess it isn’t a moonwalk or a peacock strut. And I suspect walking humbly isn’t the walk of shame, like a pitcher who just gave up the game-winning homerun.
The best picture of walking humbly that I’ve seen is a little boy walking along holding the hand of his father.
We can actually do this one.
Max Lucado concluded, “Blessed are those who acknowledge that there is only one God and have quit applying for his position.”
Micah wrote, People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.”--Micah 4:1-2 (NLT)
That’s the bottom line, walking with God in humility. We’ll try to do the right thing, we’ll get better at doing the right thing, but we’ll mess up. We’ll try to love mercy, we’ll work at having our first response be merciful, we’ll get better, but mess up there too. But we can simply grab hold of God’s hand, and allow him step by step to lead us. Even if he leads us to school.