Witness a sample reflection from Mary Queen of Peace Branch Member Laura Kozak. Her words are shared in the video link and the text below.
Please pray with me. Come, Holy Spirit, fall afresh on me so that these words are yours alone for the hearts gathered here. Each of us desires to walk with you Lord, each day. Teach us to walk by faith, not by sight. Amen.
I found a website that ranks verses in the bible by popularity. Of course it is called, “Top Bible Verses Dot Com.” Do you have a guess what the number one memory verse is? It is John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Way on the other end you can find Micah 6:8 which is ranked 99th. Many of you know it by heart. It reads:
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?
If this verse had not leapt off the page when I was reading through Micah, I am certain it would have found its way to me no matter what; God has been insisting I look at myself honestly, pointing out that I need to work on the virtue of humility.
Parts of this reflection came to me over the summer when preparing for the Cornerstone Ministry conference. In the weeks leading up to the conference, Micah 6:8 kept surfacing. First, I was helping a friend prepare for an ACTS team day of reflection, and she gave me the Litany of Humility. Perhaps not ironically, I had never heard of the Litany of Humility. I took the paper from her and promptly lost it. Well, I had to Google the litany and in that search, Micah 6:8 appeared along with a discourse on humility. I stopped to read the Litany of Humility and I was struck by the words: “O Jesus! Meek and humble of heart. Hear me. From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me Jesus. From the desire of being loved, Deliver me Jesus.” And it went on: “From the desired of being extolled, honored, praised, preferred to others, consulted, approved…” and I knew I was facing the worst of me disguised as the best of me, if I was going to get honest with myself. Who doesn’t like to be preferred, loved, praised and consulted?
Then, in an effort to “help a friend” through a hard spot with her daughter-in-law, I asked her if she had ever prayed the Litany of Humility…because of course what I love to do is give other people advice I should be taking myself. And I told her about Micah. Guess what? The next day, she got something in the mail with the full verse from Micah on it. God was speaking to us both. The verse even came up in my Pinterest newsfeed as a pretty sign for sale on Etsy.
My greatest lesson of humility was ten years ago when my daughter Vivien was born. I was deeply depressed, and by that I mean angry, because my daughter was born with Down syndrome. Essentially, and clinically, if we forget about all political correctness, my baby was mentally retarded, and I was reeling over this. I thought being smart is so important. Being educated is so important. Being worldly is so, so important. I kept thinking about the word “retarded” and ALL it meant to offend me, to make me AFRAID. I was angry at the world for its labels and angry that Vivien had inherited a label, one that so deeply cut my pride.
I resented this interruption in my plans for me, for my baby.
And then God spoke to me.
It wasn’t a heart whisper. It was a bold statement that literally snapped at me. I heard, “That word means nothing to Vivien. This is your problem. Not hers.” And then I realized I was judging my baby, my gift from God. My baby had no idea she was anything other than here, and perfect and loved… if I allowed her to be, if I gave her that. Retardation meant nothing to her. I think this is the moment when God started teaching me to walk humbly with Him, even though I didn’t know it then. I think that at best in that moment, I reached for God’s hand and began to walk by faith rather than sight…because everything before me was unknown to me.
My dear friend says to love God we must put on the “apron of humility.” We must serve, with no expectation in return and without resentment. This is how God loves us. In fact, he so loved the world that he gave us his one and only Son. Jesus Christ made the sacrifice that we don’t have to make. We must humble ourselves, to do what is just and kind – not for our own praise, but for the sake of true love – true love of God and in service to those God has given us to love. True love is humble. It does not boast. It is not afraid.
Like Amos and Hosea before him, Micah is showing us that God is asking us for a change of heart. “Only when one takes a humble walk with God will one come to learn and understand how to do justice and love kindness.” (Carol J. Dempsey)
And God will put circumstances in our path to give us the opportunity to change, which is what Micah is calling us to see and embrace.
“Micah was a poor person suffering with the poor” according to commentary by Carroll Struhlmueller. He came from a humble background and he was no stranger to want. He was no stranger to injustice, and he offers us to join a dialogue with God about how God expects us to live:
Micah 6 involves an imaginary conversation between the Lord and Israel. In verses 1-5 the Lord introduces His case against the disobedient people of Israel. Verses 6-7 record Israel’s response as a series of questions beginning with, “With what shall I come to the Lord?” (Micah 6:6).
Israel’s focus is on their external religious rites, and their questions show a progression from lesser to greater. First, they ask if God would be satisfied with burnt offerings of year-old calves (Micah 6:6b), offerings required in the Law of Moses. Second, they ask if they should bring “thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil” (Micah 6:7a). This is the rhetoric of hyperbole; such an offering could only be made by someone extremely wealthy or by the larger community of God’s people. Third, they ask whether they should offer their firstborn sons as a sacrifice for God. Would that be enough to cover their sin? Would God be pleased with them then?
Verse 8 follows with God’s answer, rooted in the Law of Moses: “He has told you, O man, what is good.” In other words, Israel should already have known the answer to their questions. God then says that He did not need or desire their religious rites, sacrifices, or oblations. Instead, the Lord sought Israel’s justice, mercy, and humility.
The answer to Israel’s sin problem was not more numerous or more painful sacrifices.
When the Lord demands in Micah, “Answer me!” do we know what our answer is? Do we know how to do what is just and kind? Ultimately, our answer is to give of ourselves. One of the commentaries I read in preparing for this reflection explained how the people of Micah’s day would have understood what the Lord is seeking:
“Act justly” would have been understood by Micah’s audience as living with a sense of right and wrong. In particular, the judicial courts had a responsibility to provide equity and protect the innocent. Injustice was a problem in Israel at that time (Micah 2:1-2; 3:1-3; 6:11).
“Love mercy” contains the Hebrew word hesed, which means “loyal love” or “loving- kindness.” Along with justice, Israel was to provide mercy. Both justice and mercy are foundational to God’s character (Psalm 89:14). God expected His people to show love to their fellow man and to be loyal in their love toward Him, just as He had been loyal to them (Micah 2:8-9; 3:10-11; 6:12).
“Walk humbly” is a description of the heart’s attitude toward God. God’s people depend on Him rather than their own abilities (Micah 2:3). Instead of taking pride in what we bring to God, we humbly recognize that no amount of personal sacrifice can replace a heart committed to justice and love. Israel’s rhetorical questions had a three-part progression, and verse 8 contains a similar progression. The response of a godly heart is outward (do justice), inward (love mercy), and upward (walk humbly).
Part of the trick of learning to walk humbly with God is paying attention to how often we resent what is going on in our lives. I am very guilty of this. I struggle through most days, irritated by my list of things to do and how hard it is to stay on track. But again, that is my will at work, and my lack of humility. In an effort to better listen to God and serve His will, each day, I read “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. And this was a recent message:
To live in My Presence consistently, you must expose and expel your rebellious tendencies. When something interferes with your plans or desires, you tend to resent the interference. Try to become aware of each resentment, however petty it may seem. Don’t push those unpleasant feelings down; instead, let them come to the surface where you can deal with them. Ask My Spirit to increase your awareness of resentful feelings. Bring them boldly into the Light of My Preference so that I can free you from them.
The ultimate solution to rebellious tendencies is submission to My authority over you. Intellectually, you rejoice in My sovereignty, without which the world would be a terrifying place. But when My sovereign will encroaches on your little domain of control, you often react with telltale resentment.
The best response to losses or thwarted hopes is praise: The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Remember that all good things – your possessions, your family and friends, your health and abilities, your time – are gifts from Me. Instead of feeling entitled to all these blessings, respond to them with gratitude. Be prepared to let go of anything I take from you, but never let go of My hand!
The message of Micah is God’s divine love, and that in His immense love, God doesn’t ask for us to make a grand show of ourselves. He is a God of forgiveness and compassion – no matter how far from humility we stray. Our God gives us all gifts to transform our hearts, to teach us to love, realizing that what God has planned for each of us is beyond anything we could want for ourselves, even the losses, the interruptions, the changes in plans. We can begin our walk any time, by faith, rather than sight.