5/31/20 Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Sometimes life is complicated. Decisions are complicated; beliefs are complicated. How to behave, what to think, what attitude to have – it can be complicated. People are complicated. There are so many emotions, reactions, perspectives, and life philosophies. I like it when things are simple. We have heard of the acronym KISS. I do not know what that means to you, but to me it means: Keep It Stupid Simple. Attributed to Einstein is the quote, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” When things are presented to me in a clear precise manner, I understand better. The genius of great teachers is that they can impart knowledge, even complex issues, in a simple straight forward fashion. KISS. Sometimes as we read the Bible, or hear stories from the Bible things seem complex. There is so much room for interpretation that we are never quite sure how to look at it. This must be obvious to everyone since there are over 45,000 Christian denominations. Christians don’t see eye-to-eye, so how can we expect the entire mix of 7.8 billion various Children of God to think and act the same? This is why some Biblical ideas are eternal – because they are simple. For instance – “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” is a simple direct statement for leading a divine life. These spiritual truths transcend all religions. In the Bible verse for today, there is a simple formula for leading a spirit-filled life: Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. If we can remember those three concepts and live through them, Spirit will fill all areas of our lives. Let’s look at these three requirements from God. 1. Act justly Some Bible translations say: to do justly, to act rightly, to do what is right, to do justice, to do what is just, or to do what is fair and just to your neighbor. We kind of get the idea: To act justly is to do what is right. According to whom are we to do what is right? – According to Spirit. How does Spirit communicate with us? There are a couple of different ways. One is through the written word. For example, God helped us with proper behavior through the Ten Commandments. These are simple directives for leading a divine life. Spirit also communicates directly with our conscious minds, through that “still small voice”. When we are open to Christ we “feel” what is right when dealing with others; we have an inner knowing and our instincts point us in the right direction. When immersed in God, we know what is right and wrong, productive and destructive, beneficial and harmful toward others. Are there people who cannot or will not discern the voice of God, and who ignore the overt expressions of Spirit? Of course. That is why there are words in our language such as ego-centric, sociopath, psychopath, prejudice, lying, cheating, cruel, and unfair. These words exist because those behaviors exist. When are hearts are removed from God, when we ignore that still small voice and don’t take time to reflect in God’s presence, we tend toward a more self-centered life, because that is all that is left to us. Fear and doubt set in, as well as the other lower expressions of ego. In times like these, some people cannot, or will not, turn within to God – to listen, feel, surrender, trust, and allow. There are times when we know what the right thing to do is, but we choose not to act. Christ says this in James 4:17: If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them. The command from God is not to just know what is right to do, but to do what is right. Sadly, some people are not aware enough yet, in their spiritual development, so do not act rightly. This leaves us little options other than to manage their behaviors, love them, pray for them, and help them in whatever way we can. That is also doing what is right. So first of all, God asks that we act justly and do what is right. 2. Second, in order to live a God-filled life we are required to love mercy. There is a subtlety to this little phrase “love mercy”. This is more than just knowing and then acting mercifully. As most of us understand it, mercy means to be kind, generous, and forgiving. It means to overlook faults, to be compassionate and loving. It is feeling sorry for a person because of the consequences they have brought upon themselves, and then acting in a way that relieves them of those consequences. Many of us can behave mercifully: We can put on the happy face and show love and compassion. We can show generosity and act in a kindly manner toward people. After all, behavior modification is the first step to making a change in our lives. But this verse goes beyond just behaving in a particular fashion; it goes beyond ‘doing’. We are required to “love” mercy, not merely display mercy. We transcend behavior modification and move into attitude modification. God wants us to change our behavior, as well as our perspective, our mind-set. He wants us to change how we think about our behaviors and to love mercy. When we can love a specific virtue, we more readily turn to it in times of stress; it becomes our ‘go-to’ behavior. When we love something, it is the first thing that pops into our heads when we wake up, and it is the last thing on our minds as we drift off to sleep. When we love mercy, mercy becomes the medium through which we live our life. We radiate mercy and we appreciate the mercy demonstrated by others. We see it abundantly in the world. We also recognize when it is lacking and are sometimes guided by Spirit to step in and supply mercy where it is needed. At another level, mercy may also express as “tough love.’ For instance, we can feel compassion and mercy for someone with an addiction, yet we don’t want to enable them. We recognize that this is their path, their lesson. We help where we can, being merciful, but we don’t remove their responsibilities. Part of mercy is forgiveness, and professional counselling may be required to correct the behavior. We can seek the guidance of God in all situations. We don’t want our mercy to make things worse for the individual or situation. That is where doing the right thing is important, as well. We may have the right to do something, but is it the right thing to do? Christ states in James 2:13 “judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” God does not want us to be judgmental; He wants us to be merciful. He wants us to love mercy, love being compassionate, and also do the right thing. 3. The third requirement for living the divine life is to walk humbly with our God. This means to have an attitude of surrender, to desire that God’s Will be done, not our own. It refers to the time that we spend in the quiet with God. To walk humbly implies an attentive and careful lifestyle that is not arrogant, not proud, and not self-willed. Matthew Kelly wrote: “If we will walk humbly with our God, He will lead us by the hand to exactly who and what we need, to those people, things, and experiences He has designed and intended for us, and this alone will be the cause of our deep fulfillment and happiness.” When we are physically unbalanced, we wobble when we walk. When we walk over rough terrain, if our focus is not where we are stepping, we can easily trip and fall. The same is true in our spiritual life. When we are spiritually unbalanced, we wobble when we walk with God. When times are untroubled, it is easy to remain spiritually consistent. It is during the times of challenge that we need to focus acutely on what is important, and that is God. When our beliefs and principles are threatened, do we walk humbly with God, or do we attempt to forge our own path and do things our way? Do our decisions and actions reflect the love of God? Are we following God’s whispers that guide us? God beckons us to walk with Spirit, trusting and humble, as well as to do the right things and love mercy. These three conditions for a God-filled life – to live justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God - are related, with God’s voice running through them all. “Be still and know that I am God”, we are instructed. When we turn our attention inward to God we open our ears, hearts, and minds to God’s guidance, God’s voice, and allow the Christ within to express. As a result, our thoughts, actions, attitudes, and words reflect God’s presence and we naturally do what is right, live through God’s love and mercy, and walk hand in hand with God. So, my prayer is that we take time to be still and know God and apply this simple formula for expressing the Christ. Let us treat all persons, including our own selves, with justice; uncondemning, nonjudgmental, and praise filled. Let us love and give expression to mercy, allowing forgiveness and compassion to gently express in our thoughts, words, actions, and attitudes. I pray that this day, and every day, we walk humbly with our God: seeing through His eyes and beholding only the good; hearing what He hears, only the harmony of perfection. With God’s strength and wholeness may we tread the path of peace and plenty, walking fearlessly, firmly, faithfully, lovingly – and yes, humbly, for we know that it is the Christ within that bears us up and guides us each step of the way. Things in life can appear complicated. But behind all the complexities is the whisper of Spirit drawing us, imploring us, encouraging us to expand our vision and see beyond what the World presents to us. I pray that we will take to heart the interpretation of this simple formula as expressed by Rabbi Tarfon: Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.