How Are We to Live?


July 6, 1997 ~ Pickering Standard Church


Micah 6:6-8 - Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?  Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?


Baseball analogy

The first few seasons I was on the team but I didn’t really play baseball.  I showed up, I played where I was told to play, and I went home.  In a very real sense I was going through the motions of playing baseball but I was definitely not a baseball player.  This season is different.  I am no better at baseball than earlier, and in some ways I am worse, but now I find that I am studying the other players to see how they do what they do well.  Bill has recommended that I use a specific bat and I use it and hit the ball.  Others tell me when and how to run and I can see the time coming when their experience will become a part of how I play baseball.  I will never be a Joe Carter or a Paul Molitor but I am learning how to be a baseball player.  Becoming a baseball player, at least for me, involves three activities:


1/ Practice:  Without practice baseball becomes mere theory.  Practice puts the concept of baseball into activity.


2/ Observation:  I observe expert (or more expert) players to see what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. If I am trying to learn how to hit the ball to a particular section of the field I must learn from those who are already able to do that.


3/ Application:  Whatever I learn that can help me to be a better baseball player I must apply.  It is similar to practice in some ways but as practice involves merging theory with activity so application involves developing and improving based on experience.


Micah, the prophet who wrote the words of our text this morning, prophesied at a time of tremendous upheaval in the middle east.  Assyria was on its road to world dominance and would shortly conquer and carry into captivity the nation of Israel, the apostate northern portion of the kingdom once ruled by David.  Micah lays the blame for their captivity directly upon the nation of Israel, saying, on God’s behalf, that Israel was destroyed due to its unswerving rebellion against God.  Micah goes on to say that the same fate will befall the southern kingdom of Judah should it not put an end to its own rebellion.


One of the key sentences in the prophecy of Micah goes as follows:


Micah 6:8 - He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?


The clear meaning is that the outwardly visible ceremonies of sacrifice and obedience to the law were insufficient as far as maintaining a proper relationship with God was concerned.  The words immediately preceding this line indicate God’s contempt for sacrifices offered by a people whose hearts were not dedicated to doing God’s will.  This sentence closes with the exhortation to “walk humbly with our God.”  A walk involves progress, walking with someone involves progressing with that person toward a common goal.  Walking with God involves becoming more and more the people that God wants for us to be.  This echoes words spoken centuries earlier by Moses when he said:


Deuteronomy 10:12-13 - And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul. To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?


God wants a people that serve Him not of requirement but of devotion.  Jesus makes this clear in His conversation with the woman of Sychar:


John 4:23-24 - But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.


The woman had been properly concerned the proper location where she was to worship God and Jesus responds by telling her that everywhere was the proper place to worship God as long as such worship was itself the proper form of worship, worship “in spirit and in truth.”


God does not want people to be Christians in the sense that I was a baseball player the first few seasons, He wants people to be Christians who will study to be better Christians, constantly seeking to improve themselves and to serve Him ever more faithfully.  But just as the process of becoming a true baseball player takes practice, observation, and application so too does becoming a true Christian:


1/ Practice: Putting the theory of Christianity into action.


2/ Observation:  Learning from the “great” Christians.  Jesus, Paul, etc.  Seeing how they do Christianity.


3/ Application:  Developing and increasing in skill by applying lessons into daily activity.


Today we will celebrate communion.  Today we will celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  I would like to encourage each of you here this morning to follow His example and apply the lessons that we can learn from His life into our own lives.  It is only as we live lives committed to loving our God above all else that we can ever be effective as His servants for it is in the committed life that others will see Him whom we love.