What Does Jehovah Require of You?
“He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?”—Mic. 6:8.
1. To whom was the question found at Micah 6:8 addressed, and why?
SINCERE persons may ask: ‘What must we do to please God?’ But it was not to such rightly disposed seekers for Jehovah God that his prophet addressed the question at Micah 6:8. Rather, that question was directed to a people against whom the Almighty God had a legal case. (Mic. 6:1, 2) This people, Israel, had disregarded its covenant obligations with the Most High. The result was a deplorable moral breakdown. Fraud, oppression, injustices, idolatry and bloodshed abounded. So bad was the situation that a person could not trust his most intimate friends and relatives.—Mic. 1:5; 2:1, 2; 3:1-3; 6:12; 7:2-6.
2. What did Jehovah’s announcing a legal case against the Israelites give them an opportunity to do?
2 Hence, by announcing a legal case against his unfaithful people, Jehovah was issuing a call to repentance. The Israelites were being put on notice that they could escape adverse judgment by taking positive steps to come into an approved standing with their God. What would this require? External forms of worship, including the offering up of the choicest sacrifices, were not enough. (Mic. 6:6, 7) The prophecy of Micah declared: “He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?”—Mic. 6:8.
‘TOLD WHAT IS GOOD’
3. What had the Israelites been taught through Moses regarding what is good?
3 Jehovah God had not left his people in ignorance regarding what is good. Centuries earlier, Moses said to the Israelites: “What is Jehovah your God asking of you but to fear Jehovah your God, so as to walk in all his ways and to love him and to serve Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul; to keep the commandments of Jehovah and his statutes that I am commanding you today, for your good?”—Deut. 10:12, 13.
4. How would the Israelites benefit from loving Jehovah and obeying his commands?
4 In every way it was in Israel’s best interests to show deep love for Jehovah God and to adhere loyally to his commands. Obedience to divine law assured them of Jehovah’s protection and continued blessing in every undertaking of theirs. (Deut. 28:1-13) On the other hand, disregard for divine law would result in insecurity and ruin.—Deut. 28:15-68.
5. Why does obedience to Jehovah promote our greatest good?
5 Similarly, persons today who have genuine love for God and who seek to follow his guidelines are pursuing a course that promotes their greatest good. Why is this? Since Jehovah is an all-wise and loving God, he has given only such commands as would further man’s welfare. (Rom. 16:27; 1 John 4:8; 5:3) Love is the very basis for all divine laws governing human relations. The apostle Paul emphasized this when he wrote: “Do not you people be owing anybody a single thing, except to love one another; for he that loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. For the law code, ‘You must not commit adultery, You must not murder, You must not steal, You must not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there is, is summed up in this word, namely, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does not work evil to one’s neighbor; therefore love is the law’s fulfillment.” (Rom. 13:8-10) Clearly, if humans everywhere would display true neighbor love, this would result in happiness, peace and security.
6. Why is it only right to love Jehovah and to obey his commands?
6 Furthermore, it is only right that we express our love for God by being obedient to his commands. (2 John 6) “By him we have life and move and exist.” (Acts 17:28) Therefore, our attitude should be like that of the 24 elders seen by the apostle John in vision. They exclaimed: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.”—Rev. 4:11.
7. (a) In connection with justice, what did God’s law require of the Israelites? (b) How would the exercise of justice have benefited the people in Micah’s day?
7 Because Jehovah God “is a lover of righteousness and justice,” he required that the Israelites imitate him in this respect. (Ps. 33:5) His law ruled out bribery and demanded that justice be administered impartially to the rich and the poor. We read: “You must not pervert judgment. You must not be partial or accept a bribe, for the bribe blinds the eyes of wise ones and distorts the words of righteous ones. Justice—justice you should pursue, in order that you may keep alive.” (Deut. 16:19, 20) “Practice no unfairness in a court decision; you shall neither favor the poor nor show deference to the influential; judge your neighbor with fairness.” (Lev. 19:15, The New Berkeley Version) Truly, Israel’s responding to the urging to “exercise justice” would have improved conditions in the days of Micah. Oppression would have been kept in check. Law and order would have been restored, leading to peace, security and stability.
8. (a) When are Christian elders required to exercise justice, and how can they do so? (b) How is justice involved in heeding the admonition of 2 Thessalonians 3:11-15?
8 Christians, too, are under command to “exercise justice.” Elders may need to determine whether a particular Christian brother qualifies to serve as a ministerial servant or as an elder. Only by sticking loyally to God’s Word and relying on the guidance of his spirit can they handle this matter impartially. Also, they may be called on to arrive at decisions concerning fellow believers who commit serious sins. (1 Cor. 6:1-6; 1 Tim. 5:20-22, 24, 25) Likewise, individual Christians may have to determine whether the unruly conduct of certain persons associated with the congregation makes them undesirable companions. Here, too, the proper exercise of justice would require that such a decision be based on God’s Word and not on personal prejudice or on unscriptural opinions. The motive for stopping association with certain fellow believers in a social way should be a desire to help to bring home to them the need to change their ways. It would not mean being unkind to such persons, ‘treating them as enemies.’ These individuals should continue to be ‘admonished as brothers.’ (2 Thess. 3:11-15) Of course, this also serves to protect those who follow the Bible’s advice in this matter from coming under an unwholesome influence.—2 Tim. 2:20-22.
9. According to James 4:11, 12, how might a Christian fail to exercise justice toward a fellow believer?
9 However, if Christians were to judge a fellow believer’s actions, motives or manner of living by their own standards, making an unauthorized assessment of the person’s worth, they would make themselves guilty of a serious failure to exercise justice. Note what the disciple James wrote: “Quit speaking against one another, brothers. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother speaks against law and judges law. Now if you judge law, you are, not a doer of law, but a judge. One there is that is lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But you, who are you to be judging your neighbor?” (Jas. 4:11, 12) Individuals who so judge would be setting themselves above the law of love that God gives, judging that law of love as not applying to them. (Matt. 22:36-39; compare 1 John 3:16.) In so doing, they would be violating Jehovah’s standard of justice, which is based on love.
10. Why is it unjust to view one particular group of people as being more deserving of the “good news” than is another group?
10 Furthermore, it would be unjust for a Christian to view one particular group of people as being more deserving of the “good news” than is another group. Jesus Christ died for all mankind, and it is God’s will that no partiality be shown in making known the message of salvation. (1 Tim. 2:3-6) Hence, in lands where it is possible to visit people in their homes with the Bible’s message, it would certainly be in keeping with the spirit of impartiality to call at every door. While certain groups of people may be more inclined to listen, we need to guard against succumbing to feelings of favoritism.—Compare James 2:1-9.
11. What is the significance of the expression “to love kindness”?
11 Besides being required to exercise justice, the Israelites were commanded “to love kindness.” The expression “to love kindness” may also be rendered “to love loving-kindness,” or, “to love loyal love.” Such “loving-kindness” is an active compassionate concern or regard for others. It is kindness that manifests itself in deeds. (Compare Ruth 2:8-20; 3:10.) “To love kindness” would mean to find pleasure or delight in expressing kindness, cheerfully coming to the aid of others.
12. What shows that Jesus Christ did indeed “love kindness”?
12 Jesus Christ set an excellent example in this regard. Even when he was tired and his privacy was interrupted, he gladly responded to the needs of his fellow countrymen. Regarding one occasion, the Scriptures report: “He took [the apostles] along and withdrew to privacy into a city called Bethsaida. But the crowds, getting to know it, followed him. And he received them kindly and began to speak to them about the kingdom of God, and he healed those needing a cure.” (Luke 9:10, 11) It brought great delight to Jesus to show such kindness.
13. How might we today show that we “love kindness”?
13 If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, do you “love kindness”? Do you put personal comforts and desires in a secondary position so that you can be wholehearted in giving material and spiritual aid to those in need? As in the case of Jesus, are feelings of compassion stirred within you when you see the sad spiritual plight of those lacking accurate knowledge? (Mark 6:34) Do you eagerly and cheerfully bring spiritual comfort to others, including acquaintances and relatives? Are you also setting aside time each month to have a reasonable share in public witnessing? (Compare Revelation 22:1, 2, 17.) When you see fellow believers or others in real physical need, are you moved to come to their aid? (Prov. 3:27, 28; 2 Cor. 8:1-4; 9:6-12) Certainly, this should be the case if we do indeed “love kindness.”
“BE MODEST IN WALKING WITH YOUR GOD”
14. What is the sense of the Hebrew term rendered “modest”?
14 The prophecy of Micah also encouraged the Israelites: “Be modest in walking with your God.” Since the Hebrew term rendered “modest” at Micah 6:8 appears only here and at Proverbs 11:2, the full significance of the word is not readily discerned. Later Jewish writings indicate that this Hebrew term conveys the thought of purity and decency. The Septuagint Version and the Syriac present the idea of being “prepared” or “ready” to walk with God. Hence, rather than being simply a matter of humility, modest walking with Jehovah evidently includes being in a fit, unassuming, not self-reliant state before him.
15. As illustrated in the case of Enoch and Noah, what is meant by ‘walking with God’?
15 The expression ‘to walk with God,’ appears much earlier in the Bible record. For instance, the prophet Enoch and the patriarch Noah are spoken of as walking with God. Regarding Noah, we read: “Noah was a righteous man. He proved himself faultless among his contemporaries. Noah walked with the true God.” (Gen. 5:24; 6:9) Enoch, too, “pleased God well.” (Heb. 11:5) Therefore, walking with God involves conducting ourselves as if we were in his very presence, conforming to his will. Both Enoch and Noah enjoyed a special intimacy with Jehovah God because of their faith and upright conduct.
16. (a) If we are going to be modest in walking with God, what should be true of our conduct? (b) What good can result from a Christian’s praiseworthy example in living?
16 For Christians to be in a suitable condition to continue enjoying an intimacy with Jehovah God, they must be modest to the point of walking with him, remaining holy, unassuming and decent in his eyes. The Scriptures counsel: “Maintain your conduct fine among the nations, that, in the thing in which they are speaking against you as evildoers, they may as a result of your fine works of which they are eyewitnesses glorify God in the day for his inspection.” (1 Pet. 2:12) Yes, a fine example in Christian living adds force to the public preaching of the “good news.” It proves that true worship affects the lives of people for good and may silence persons who misrepresent genuine disciples of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 2:13-16) In fact, such misrepresenters of Christians may come to appreciate the wrongness of their course and, in time, themselves become glorifiers of Jehovah God.
17, 18. (a) As is evident from Micah’s prophecy and James 1:22-25, what does Jehovah require of all who would be pleasing in his sight? (b) How do Enoch’s and Noah’s walking with God illustrate the same point?
17 The inspired words of Micah’s prophecy leave no question about the fact that action is required on the part of all who would be pleasing to Jehovah God. The same point is made by the disciple James: “Become doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves with false reasoning. For if anyone is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, this one is like a man looking at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, and off he goes and immediately forgets what sort of man he is. But he who peers into the perfect law that belongs to freedom and who persists in it, this man, because he has become, not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, will be happy in his doing it.”—Jas. 1:22-25.
18 It simply is not enough to pray, to read the Bible, to attend Christian meetings and there to listen respectfully to what is said. Our lives must demonstrate that we are exercising justice, love kindness and are modest in walking with Jehovah. Both Enoch’s and Noah’s blameless walking with the Most High included zealous activity. Enoch fearlessly prophesied, telling the ungodly of his day that Jehovah would execute judgment by means of myriads of angels. (Jude 14, 15) Not only did Noah share in building the ark for the preservation of his household and basic animal kinds, but he was also “a preacher of righteousness,” sounding the warning of a coming destruction to his contemporaries.—2 Pet. 2:5.
19. What questions might we ask ourselves to determine whether we are living in harmony with Micah 6:8?
19 Surely, disciples of Jesus Christ do not want to deceive themselves into thinking that one’s having a pleasing personality and engaging in public worship are sufficient for one to be approved by Jehovah God. An active compassionate concern for fellow humans must be in evidence. Is that true of you? Are you willing and eager to respond to the physical and spiritual needs of others, doing so without partiality? Do you zealously carry out the command to preach and to make disciples? (Matt. 28:19, 20) Is your conduct as a servant of God worthy of imitation? If so, you are living in harmony with the inspired words recorded at Micah 6:8.
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Calling at every home with the “good news” shows impartiality
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Jesus delighted in showing kindness by curing the sick
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As “a preacher of righteousness,” Noah gave advance warning about the Flood