16th Sunday after Pentecost“Living Simply to Simply Live : Act Justly”
 He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Pastor Steve and I are beginning a 3 week journey with you in our message time called “Living Simply to Simply Live.” The goal is that you be challenged to rid your lives and hearts of all the stuff that hinders your experience of God. Through living simply in our faith we can find the freedom to live out our faith everyday and let it give us the life that God desires we have. Christ has come to give us abundant life and that can be experienced when we live as He lives. So let’s get into it…
The Christian life can seem so complicated to people, whether they are Believers or not. And it is sometimes overwhelming when you look through the Bible with all of it’s events and demands and think about what is required. Most people think—especially non-Christians—that Christianity boils down to rules and regulations, giving no thought whatsoever to the purpose of any of those rules and regulations.
And so, rather than trying to boil it down to only one thing, let’s boil it down to a starting point. The goal of the Christian life is to become like Christ. This was true of the Old Testament, as God was molding the people of Israel into a nation that would be a beacon of hope and salvation to the rest of the world through Him. This is the truth of the New Testament, as the people have God-with-them, in Jesus Christ, so that they would live in freedom from sin and have an eternal hope to share with the world.
Admittedly, even the Church sometimes fails to see that the Scripture’s requirements of us are possible if we will let God truly live in and through us. The prophet Micah is one of the many writers who offers us a look into what life is like when we let God live in us. To clarify: when we allow the nature and character of God to dictate our interactions with the world and even dictate our responses to the world, we can see godliness come alive in the here and now. A holy life is most certainly able to be witnessed by everyone when we are living godly. God acting in us is the key. But this means conforming to God and to His expectations.
And so, Micah lays out God’s expectations and says this to the people, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” We are looking at “acting justly” today. One of the main issues plaguing the people of Israel at this time of this writing and keeping them from being in God’s favor once again was the sin of their social injustice. Among God’s people, there was neglect and unjust treatment of others. They had in essence, treated their own people no different than the rulers who were oppressing them.
Among the people of God and the community that He was building, the expectation was that the people would be just, that they would do what was right in the eyes of the Lord. But justice was absent from the character and lives of the people. To be just is to base life or behave in life according to what is morally right and fair. Because the character of God is the standard, to act outside the justice of God is to put a barrier between our mission and purpose. We can’t be a beacon or bring hope if we aren’t just.
And so, the people of Israel suffered the consequences of their injustice and sin. They were allowed to experience the injustice they had practiced through oppression from foreign rulers and dictators. God’s judgment on the people was fair in that they received the same treatment that they themselves had chosen to exercise on others. If they wanted to be free from the curse of oppression, they would need to repent and turn back to God, living as He had taught them.
The requirement was to act justly. Later in the New Testament, Jesus would echo this in a way that might seem more familiar to us, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7.12). So let’s break it down. God is just. God expects us to be just. We are to treat others justly. As Christians, we would want others to treat us justly. And this is the kind of community that we are going for. By acting justly, we are living simply to simply live.
When we rid ourselves of any and all forms of cruelty, manipulation, insincerity, jealousy, and insult, we simplify our lives and spend our time serving one another. If you’re not jealous or manipulative, then you’re going to love and enjoy the other person or persons and serve them. Acting justly, fairly, and in consideration of others is godly living. All God does He does for us and for our salvation. So we treat others as we would want to be treated—in a loving, holy, godly way.
Like the people of Micah’s time, we as the Church and the world must turn our hearts and ways back to God. But doing this means living out godly lives, living as God lives. Living unjustly is asking for experiences that are painful and full of consequences. A lack of godly character is unjust.
God requires us to do as He has done; and God has done great things for the redemption of His people. Through God’s Son, He has reconciled the world back to Himself. All the world needs to do is turn from their sin, accept His grace, and act justly, living into the expectations of God.
How will you live justly this week? How will you live as God lives? How will you live simply to simply live?