Pleasing the Lord isn’t very complicated. It isn’t easy, but it’s relatively straightforward. He said so through the Old Testament prophet, Micah.
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?
Unfortunately, the world will make this neither easy nor automatic; it severely punishes those who choose to please God. Moreover, our own fallen natures would have us please ourselves first. Nevertheless, the Lord has not left us to struggle on our own. Those who belong to Him have been given power that cannot be overcome by evil. Therefore, let us be aware of the challenges we face so that, through His strength, we might overcome them. Each of the Lord’s expectations—to do what is right, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with Him—will be met with a particular challenge.
The greatest challenge to doing what is right is doing what is hard.
Generally speaking, people have two important values they hope to preserve: comfort and integrity. And, usually, right choices are the best way to preserve both. Obedience to the law and honest dealings are not only right, they pay good dividends—usually. However, doing what is right often requires a bold step of faith and frequently leads to suffering. That’s when we come face-to-face with an ugly truth: We typically make decisions that preserve our comfort and then feel relieved when they also happen to maintain our integrity. When doing what is right requires us to choose between them, the resulting crisis can be debilitating.
Because the instinct to safeguard our comfort is so powerful, we will have to be deliberate about making integrity the primary value in every decision—even the easy ones.
The greatest challenge to loving kindness is forgiving a great injustice.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). There’s something satisfying about that advice. It asks us to allow God to administer justice, which will be swifter and surer than anything we could accomplish ourselves. It suits our sense of fair play. But Paul didn’t stop there. He continued, “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink” (Romans 12:20).
We do well to leave justice in the hands of God, but how happy are we when He allows our enemy to enjoy blessing? We must choose to be satisfied in His sovereignty when He says, “Mercy is mine, I will bless whomever I bless.” Moreover, we genuinely love kindness when we join Him in doing good for the person who harmed us.
The greatest challenge to walking humbly with God is releasing what we feel competent to do.
When do we pray? Usually when we’re all out of options! When do we invite the Lord’s intervention? Usually when we realize we’re in over our heads! But what about those areas of life in which we feel competent? Note that Micah calls us to “walk humbly with our God” (emphasis added), not merely with humility and certainly not alone.
What areas of life do you feel you have adequately under control? Finances? Relationships? Career? To walk humbly with God means we admit that we are a lot less capable than we think and we surrender those matters to His control. Do this in a sincere prayer; He’ll take it from there.
Natural instinct is the natural enemy of a life well lived. To experience the good life, consider this: The choice that requires the greatest dependence upon God is usually the right one. It’s rarely easy and seldom rewarded, but it’s always pleasing to the Lord.