(6) with what shall i come before the LORD,
and bow myself before the High God?
shall i come before Him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
(7) will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
ten thousand rivers of oil?
shall i give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
(8) He has shown you, o man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justly,
to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God?
This was my Bible reading the other day (the book of the prophet micah, chapter 6). The Israelites were really big into sacrificing things to the Lord as a way of paying for their sins...it was a big part of the Mosiac Law (the law that God gave to Moses after the Hebrews were set free from Egypt). But they got so wrapped up in the sacrificing that they lost touch with the One they were supposed to be sacrificing these things to. In verses 6 and 7, I think Micah is being kind of sarcastic. If God would be happy with a sacrifice of one ram for my sins, how much happier would He be with 10,000 of them?! How about my very own child! Wow! Wouldn't God just love me so much if I sacrifice more, more, more?
But then Micah reminds the Israelites: God does not require more and more sacrifice. God isn't as impressed with the physical sacrifice as He is with the attitude of our hearts. "what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (v.8)
And oh, how true it is for us, even today. We are bombared with the message that if we just live better, if we try harder, if we give more, God will be more pleased with us, perhaps earning us a spot in heaven when we die.
God never said that; man made that part up.
Maybe it's because we feel better when we do more good things than someone else. It's easier to feel better about ourselves when we have tangible proof of our 'goodness.'
But, my friends, I am pleading with you to realize that you and I cannot please God with things or with multiple good deeds. The season of Lent started yesterday...many people (you may be included) give up something for Lent. For some, it's chocolate; others, gossip; still others, shopping. Do you do it out of love for the true God, or do you do it because 'it's the right thing to do?' God isn't happier with you when you say more Our Fathers or do more penance; it doesn't please Him more when you get involved with more community activities and more church committees. What He cares most about, what He requires of you and I, is simple:
Do all that you do out of a heart of love for God. Read His very words (the Bible), and see how much God loves you already (even without all of those good deeds! He loved you before you were born, and He will love you always, even if you don't do a lot of good things, and even if you've done some really, really bad things! Even if you question right now whether or not He even exists!) Admit that you are not the god of your life; admit that there is no other God; humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up. There is nothing God desires more than for you to have a real relationship with Him, and for you to believe that He loves you enough to send Jesus to die for everything that you have ever done wrong. My dear, dear friend...you will not get into heaven for just being a good person or by following the rules of your church. God, through His sacrifice of His own Son, has already opened the door of heaven to you. You don't have to do anything to earn His favor and eternal life except believe that. But don't take my word for it; take His!
"...if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.' [Isaiah 28:16] For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For 'whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.' [Joel 2:32]" -Romans 10:9-13