Here’s the $1,000,000 question: How can I please you, God? I’ll be very willing to admit that a lot of teachers and preachers have made the answer to this question more perplexing, complicated and sacrificial than it ought to be. I’ll also be quick to add (because I myself have struggled with this) that too often we look for some form of “list” or series of acts to perform that will “secure” God’s satisfaction with us.
I’m certain that the answer is relatively “simple” and I’m equally certain that simple doesn’t always equate to “easy.” Just by laying out a few terse precepts or principals (which I will provide momentarily) doesn’t guarantee a pathway or guarantee of satisfaction where you or I might say, “thanks, I’ve got it from here.” We often are helped by the fleshing out or unpacking of directives but there is a problem inherent with doing that in this “how to please God” context . . . while it explains and gives clarity and direction, it also tends to put us back in the practice of looking for lists.
Micah was an Old Testament prophet who seemed like a pretty regular guy. Not flashy. A pretty much straight to the point guy among prophets of much greater notoriety. Micah’s message was a strong rebuke of phony religion and pretense, especially judgmental toward the misuse of power among the leaders and influencers. He was opposed to artificial piety, condemned sin, yet did what he could to comfort and give hope to the afflicted.
He got down to brass tacks about what was pleasing to God and addressed in substance pretty much the questions we have about rightly relating to God. You’ll need to get past the references to burnt offerings and the sacrifice of rams and calves and try to put all this in a more contemporary and hopefully personal perspective. Here’s my point. In Micah 6:6-7 Micah poses this rhetorical question: “With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the Lord 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 first-born for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
All of the above are material offerings. (Even the children) With such we might ask how much and how often do I give, and what is the measure of “acceptable sacrifice?” Instead of recommending these “gifts” and “offerings” to God, Micah replaces these complicated possibilities with something more clear, more personal, more comprehensive, and perhaps more demanding. He literally erases the “list” and moves straight to the heart, to the essence of divine human character. He expresses a definition of simple faith by telling his people what God truly wants. “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
We’re going to have to slow down life and be a bit more contemplative perhaps if this is going to have the desired effect. Our speed of life can tend to drown out the voice of the Spirit. To do justice: how have I responded in relationships to demonstrate fairness and patience towards others? Have I afforded everyone I have interacted with or spoken about the respect and dignity they deserve as one also created in God’s image? To love kindness/mercy: has the love of God been manifested through me today, even in trying circumstances . . . especially with people who may not be my favorites? Even though I may not have been treated as well as I’d liked and perhaps been treated miserably, has the “fruit,” the “essence of God” within me responded better to others than perhaps my emotions feel they deserved? Walk humbly with God: Am I respecting His sovereignty in all things? Am I reminded that His goodness and wisdom are in process even when my sight is blinded to that? Am I trusting Him and that relating to Him in humility brings the promise of recognition and reward?
These are qualities of character capable of being evaluated, measured by ourselves as well as with the help of the Holy Spirit just as King David requested God to do for him in Psalm 139:23 saying “Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts; see if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting.” We may feel inclined to stop at the middle of the day or even at mid-sentence to determine whether our character and our conduct reflect that which Micah prescribes. God has clearly said this is what is “good” and what “He requires of us.” Simple? Yes. Easy? I promise it gets better with practice. Think About It.