My Greatest New Year’s Resolutions
Court was called to order. Micah, the stenographer recorded it all in the book that bears his name. God was bringing His case against the nation of Israel who fidgeted nervously behind the defendant’s table.
As the gavel fell, God stood from the bench and began listing a seemingly endless list of crimes Israel had committed. His voice trailed off and His throat tightened as He made His way down the list of charges.
You could see Him shudder with every charge because these weren’t strangers; these were His kids. God’s justice demanded they pay for their sins, but God’s mercy reached for them to repent and run back into His open arms, but they would have none of it. They just sat there at the defendant’s table with their arms crossed.
With tear-filled eyes, God presented evidence that He had done no wrong to Israel. They had no right to treat Him and others so wrong. Once God rested His case, Israel stood to speak. This time, she didn’t swagger. She shook. She stopped to face those who would pass judgment on her, stuttered a few lines, and finally said, “Listen, I’ve already pled guilty. I am not here to prove my innocence. Rather, I am here to plea bargain. I’ve heard what God has charged me with, and He’s right. I’m wrong. But I don’t know what God expects of me, so allow me to suggest a few sentences of my own.
Will God be pleased with:
1. Burnt offerings of yearling calves
2. Thousands of rams
3. Would ten thousands rivers of oil make Him happy
4. What about sacrificing our firstborn children. I’ll give Him the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul.
In mid-sentence of her suggested sentences, God stood and cried out, “No! I don’t want calves or rams or rivers or your firstborn. I’ve already told you what I want. You know what is good. “Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”
If the temperature of our world were a sunny 72 degrees and we could sip sweet tea until Jesus came, the world would love our message and live for our God. But I hear the words of Jesus blast like a trumpet: If they hated me, they will hate you. In this world, you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer, I have already overcome the world.
So in 2014, God is still looking for His church to do justly—to believe, preach, and live what is right in a world that has gone wrong. To do justly both inside and outside the churchhouse. To our parents, to our siblings. On our homework, while we’re at work. Even on our taxes. God was reminding Israel that His people don’t cheat, don’t lie, and they don’t steal. They do justly.
If that’s all God required, the Pharisees were a shoe in. They knew how to do justly. They dotted all their “i’s” and crossed all their “t’s.” They tithed to the nth cent. They knew how to do justly, but somehow they missed the second part of the verse in Micah 6. They forgot to love mercy.
She could testify to that. Those just-doing Pharisees had just caught her in the act of adultery. They dragged her down rocky streets and threw her at the feet of Jesus. “Master, Moses in the law says she should die, but what do You say? We know the Scriptures. We’re just doing justly.”
But Jesus knew and lived the second part of that verse in Micah 6. And when He finished speaking to the just Pharisees, they all turned and walked away. And Jesus asked the lady, “Where are your accusers? She wiped her eyes, looked around, surprised to be alive, and said with a sigh, “There are none, Lord.” Jesus replied, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.”
“Neither do I condemn thee” is loving mercy. “Go and sin no more” is doing justly. In Micah 6, God commanded and Jesus lived both because mercy and justice are not arch-enemies; they’re actually very close friends. We read in the Psalms that mercy and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
If God, who is wholly holy is willing to love mercy, we who are wholly forgiven, should love mercy. Thank God for mercy. While we’re doing justly, let’s not forget the Siamese twin in that verse. Let’s love mercy.
We can’t just preach God’s law; we’ve got to preach God’s love. God’s church always has both.
Walk humbly with thy God
But the crowning commandment in that verse is listed last. Micah said, “Walk humbly with our God.” Walking with God is getting up day after day, morning after morning, and walking with the Lord. Walking with God is not always concerned with the volume or even the length of our prayer but is always concerned with the consistency of our prayer.
When it’s warmer than twenty-five degrees outside and the sun is shining, Andrea and I like to take the girls around our neighborhood and walk. We walk to the farmer’s market in the summer and to Eight Sisters Bakery any time I get a chance.
There’s something I’ve learned about walking. My girls aren’t impressed by how fast I can walk or by the long strides I can take. They’re not even impressed by the $5 words I drop in conversation while we walk. We’re happy to just spend time together and walk.
When Andrea and I walk together, I don’t walk with her to impress her.—I walk to spend time with her. I walk to talk to her and hear about her day, her week, what’s going on in her life. Those are special times I get to spend with my bride.
How do you think God feels about the time we take to walk with Him? He’s not impressed by long strides or how fast we can run. He just wants us to slip our hand in His and spend time each day walking with Him.
And before we realize it, we’re spending more time with God this year than last year because we’re spending time walking with the One we love and the One who loves us.
So this year, if you don’t quite keep all your resolutions, let’s be sure to keep these three from Micah 6. Let’s do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
L.J. Harry is thrilled to be the husband to Andrea, daddy to Maki and Raylee. He also serves as editor for InsideOut, pastor of Apostolic Christian Church in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and Ohio District Youth President.