May 10, 2015

Micah 6:8 He has showed 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.

I have written on this verse not that long ago, when it came up under the theme of humility, but it is a very powerful one. Just as in Hosea 6:6, the verse that struck me two days ago, the Japanese uses “integrity” where the NIV uses “mercy.” Tracking it down, the Hebrew word is chesed, and in English is most often translated as mercy, but Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible defines it as “kindness, loving kindness.” I find it fascinating that the Japanese would translate that as integrity/character, but the ability to express mercy is certainly a measure of a person’s character/integrity. This all brings us back to the fundamental truth that God is interested in what we are on the inside. The Bible is clear that chesed is descriptive of God, appearing even in the 2nd Commandment, (Exodus 20:6) where the NIV renders it as “love.” This verse says that God wants us to walk humbly with Him, so it only stands to reason that He wants us to reflect His character in order to do so. As Amos 3:3 famously points out, agreement is indeed desirable when it comes to walking together. Going backwards, God certainly acts justly, as well as being merciful, so God is saying, “Be like me, so we can fellowship together.” The more you think about it, the more awesome that is. We were created for fellowship with our Creator, and all His laws and rules and instructions are to facilitate that. That is light-years removed from the vindictive image of God that so many people have. This is what “God is love” (1 John 4:8) is all about.

I’m back to being grateful for the environment in which I was raised. I think my parents did a remarkable job of modeling this verse, and I definitely pray that I would do no less. As a pastor, it is a major frustration that so many people feel they are incapable of doing this. However, that comes back to focusing on ourselves rather than on God. In our own strength, it goes without saying that we can’t do it. In God’s strength, anything is possible! (Philippians 4:13) I am not to draw back from living out this verse myself, but I am to seek to help all the believers understand that it’s just as possible for them as for me, for exactly the same reasons. I know too well that left to myself I am a selfish, conceited slob, and to whatever degree I am different from that, it is by the grace of God. I need to help them understand that same grace is equally available to them.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the opportunities I have to speak Your truth today, in this church this morning and in Fukuoka this afternoon. I pray that in both places I would take my eyes off of myself and place them firmly on Christ my Lord, so that I would not get in the way of Your Spirit speaking through me. May Your Name be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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