What Does God Desire From Us
What does God Desire From Us
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
The fundamental question of all religions is, “How do we live in a right relationship with God?” For some, the answer is found in religious rituals and activities. Living in a right relationship with God involves following the rules established in our religious practices. We go to church, read the Bible, and participate in church and community activities. For them, religion boils down to following external rules and regulations. But this was the approach of the Jews. For them, all God required was to follow the rules and regulations established in the law. Today many substitute the external rituals of the Jews with external acts of social justice and social activities. To please God, all we need to do is feed the poor, fight for the rights of the downtrodden, and actively engage in social and political reform. However, in verses 6-7, God condemns the individual who reduces religion to external activities. The problem is not in the sacrifices or the acts of justice but in the heart condition. We do all the right things for the wrong reason. In the end, this is unacceptable to God. Instead of finding genuine joy and contentment in life, we find ourselves always striving but never being satisfied (13-15).
On the other hand, some desire to reduce faith to just a mental affirmation without any significant change in our life or attitude toward others. They internalize their religion without any outward transformation. Faith is just affirming the truths of God without any requirements to treat others differently or to care about those mistreated in socieity. They have the correct beliefs but do not do the right things.
We again must ask, “What does God require?” God himself provides the answer in verse 8. Genuine faith is both inward belief and outward transformation. The term justice does not just refer to the idea of social justice that is often portrayed today. The word justice refers to doing what is right as established by the character and person of the Living God, not just following human standards of right and wrong. It is loving and upholding His law and manifesting His character in our treatment of others. It is defining social justice by his standard and caring about others as an expression of his love for them.
The second requirement, “to love kindness,” literally means “to love faithful covenant love.” The word is grounded in the loyal, unselfish, self-sacrificial love toward God and others. It is set aside our interests to do what is in the best interest of others and God.
Last, genuine faith involves recognizing that we have no merit before God and that any good found in us comes from God’s empowerment, enablement, and grace rather than any ability on our part. Therefore, to walk humbly before God is to live by faith, making God and our relationship with him and pursuing his will our highest priority rather than following our agenda and desires.
Charles Feinberg summarizes, “The piety that God approves consists of three elements; a strict adherence to that which is equitable in all dealings with our fellowman; a heart determined to do them good; and diligent care to live in close intimate fellowship with God.” In other words, faith transforms our actions and attitudes toward others and God. First, it is loving others and loving God (Matthew 22:34-40). To do one without the other is to have an incomplete faith. God desires us to treat others in light of His character and His love for people by meeting their needs and loving God by surrendering our life to Him and the pursuit of His will. Internal faith in Christ results in the outward transformation of our attitude toward others. This is what the Lord requires of us.