18th Sunday after Pentecost“Living Simply to Simply Live :
 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?
Today we end our lessons from Micah 6.8. Our challenge has been that we would live simply to simply live. The requirements of the Scripture are that we would do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. These 3 things are simple in definition but difficult in execution. It’s one of those easier said than done type of moments. The difficulty is this, that there is so much that is not godly pushing back against us, trying to deter us from living simply and godly. Acting justly and loving mercy feels impossible when people’s experience is that our world is not just and utterly merciless.
And so, because of people’s experience, they are often lead into a life that chooses the “easy evils” of the world, spending many of their days unaware that evil is even present in their lives because it’s just the way things are. But there is a glue that helps us live justly and love mercy, and it is our third lesson today, to walk humbly with God.
Humility is the great counter-cultural characteristic. Pride is to be expected in today’s world, as it has become a type of survival trait in order to either get ahead or simply stay above water. Pride feeds our ego, either puffing us up or giving us a false sense of comfort, as we seek recognition for accolades or persistence. Think about the places where you are involved, be it family, social circles, or work. Do you want to be recognized for your work, for the role you played, or for the things you’ve overcome? It’s tempting to want these things, but they are self-serving. Look at Jesus in the desert in Matthew 4, as the devil tempted Jesus, calling Him to elevate Himself. But Jesus consistently put God first, exemplifying the Scripture of James 4.10, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
Humility is truly a neglected trait. It’s for that reason that we are blown away when we see it; we are awestruck and dumbfounded when its lived out before us. This is the reason that Pope Francis gets the media coverage that he does. He met with the United States Congress this past week, standing between both political aisles, urging some things and encouraging others. He was applauded by both sides of party lines at times and ignored by both sides at times. Het met with dignitaries, not to make friends, but to teach, then denied an invitation to lunch with dignitaries in order to dine with the homeless, whom he made his friends.
The Pope is a prime example of humility because he seeks not to do his own will, but only to do the will of God. He understands God’s will because he understands the Scriptures, learning about how Jesus lived and then actually living as Jesus lived. Rather than walk his own way, he walks Christ’s way. Or, you could say that he walks humbly with his God.
When we walk with God, we go where He goes; we do as He does; we say what He says. Even Jesus was humble in His admission to others that He did only what God did. He says in John 5.19, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.” Jesus wants us to know that there is one way to live this life and that’s as God would have us live it.
So many people are turned off by this because they want to have control on some level, they want to exercise a sense of freedom. But they fail to understand the human condition, that left to our own devices and decisions we are capable of nothing but death and destruction. But with God, there is life overflowing. Therefore, humility is required in order to achieve a faith that brings life. This is why we must accept the victory that Jesus has won through His death and resurrection and receive the gift of His Presence, so that we can bring justice and mercy through walking humbly in and with His Presence.
It is in and only in walking humbly with God that these are possible. We should crave these things, and not just for ourselves, but for our community. If God is indeed building a community, then this is the way of the kingdom. There is no room for pride, for one-upmanship. If we are to outdo each other, we must do it as the Scripture says it, “love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12.10).
Lastly, I desperately want you to understand that humility is the great safeguard against a host of evils. As we’ve already said, humility wards off pride; it considers others first; it disarms conflict; and most importantly, humility opens up the heart to the goodness of God because “the self” has been denied and the Holy Spirit has been given precedence.
When we give honor and glory to God instead of ourselves, we say that we will walk with Him, that we will follow Him. We are giving up control and trusting that He knows best. Seventeenth century archbishop François Fénelon said,
“True humility lies in seeing our own unworthiness and giving ourselves up to God, never doubting that he can work out the greatest results for and in us.”
In no way are we capable of acting justly; in no way are we worthy of mercy; but through humility, in walking humbly with God, we can see true justice and endless mercy. But we must walk and we must walk with God. We must let Him lead and guide. And that brings us to our challenge. Will you let God lead? How will you let God lead? Do you already know where He’s leading you? Will you pray about this important step, walking humbly with God, if you are not following Him in this way already?
Let me remind us what something said last week: The success of the community of God depends upon that community living out God’s expectations in faithfulness. There is justice to be acted out. There is mercy and kindness to love. And the only way to see them, to experience them, to have them come about for the transformation of the world is for YOU to walk with God. Will you do it today?