What Does Jehovah Expect of Us?
“What is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?”—MICAH 6:8.
1, 2. Why may some servants of Jehovah become discouraged, but what should prove helpful?
VERA is a faithful Christian about 75 years of age and in poor health. “Sometimes,” she says, “I look out the window and see my Christian brothers and sisters preaching from house to house. It brings tears to my eyes because I want to be with them, but sickness limits my service to Jehovah.”
2 Have you ever felt like that? Of course, all who love Jehovah want to walk in his name and meet his requirements. Yet, what if we have declining health, are advanced in years, or have family responsibilities? We may be somewhat discouraged because such circumstances may prevent us from doing all that our heart yearns to do in God’s service. If this is our situation, a consideration of Micah chapters 6 and 7 is likely to prove very encouraging. These chapters show that Jehovah’s requirements are reasonable as well as reachable.
How God Treats His People
3. How does Jehovah treat the rebellious Israelites?
3 Let us first look at Micah 6:3-5 and note how Jehovah treats his people. Remember that in Micah’s time the Israelites are rebellious. Even so, Jehovah compassionately addresses them with the words, “O my people.” He pleads: “O my people, remember, please.” Rather than harshly accuse them, he tries to reach their heart by asking, “What have I done to you?” He even encourages them to “testify against” him.
4. God’s example of compassion should have what effect on us?
4 What an example God sets for all of us! He compassionately called even the rebellious people of Israel and Judah of Micah’s day “my people” and addressed them with the term “please.” Certainly, then, we should display compassion and kindness in our dealings with those who are a part of the congregation. Granted, some may not be easy to get along with, or they may be spiritually weak. If they love Jehovah, however, we want to help them and show them compassion.
5. What basic point is made at Micah 6:6, 7?
5 Next, let us turn to Micah 6:6, 7. Micah asks a series of questions, saying: “With what shall I confront Jehovah? With what shall I bow myself to God on high? Shall I confront him with whole burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will Jehovah be pleased with thousands of rams, with tens of thousands of torrents of oil? Shall I give my firstborn son for my revolt, the fruitage of my belly for the sin of my soul?” No, it is not possible to please Jehovah “with thousands of rams, with tens of thousands of torrents of oil.” But there is something that will please him. What is that?
We Must Exercise Justice
6. What three divine requirements are set out at Micah 6:8?
6 At Micah 6:8, we learn what Jehovah expects of us. Micah asks: “What is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?” These three requirements involve how we feel, think, and act. We must feel inclined to show these qualities, think about how to manifest them, and take action to display them. Let us consider these three requirements one at a time.
7, 8. (a) What does it mean “to exercise justice”? (b) What injustices are rampant in Micah’s day?
7 “To exercise justice” means to do what is right. God’s way of doing things is the standard of justice. Micah’s contemporaries, however, exercise not justice but injustice. In what ways? Consider Micah 6:10. At the end of that verse, merchants are described as using a “scrimped ephah measure,” that is, one that is too small. Mic 6 Verse 11 adds that they employ “deceptive stone weights.” And according to Mic 6 verse 12, “their tongue is tricky.” Thus, false measures, false weights, and false speech are rampant in the commercial world of Micah’s day.
8 Unjust practices are not limited to the marketplace. They are also common in court. Micah 7:3 indicates that “the prince is asking for something, and the one who is judging does so for the reward.” Bribes are given to judges so that they will impose unjust sentences upon innocent people. “The great one,” or influential citizen, joins in the crimes. In fact, Micah says that the prince, the judge, and the great man “interweave,” or coordinate, their wicked deeds.
9. How are Judah and Israel affected by the injustices practiced by the wicked?
9 The injustices practiced by the wicked leaders affect all of Judah and Israel. Micah 7:5 notes that a lack of justice has led to a lack of trust between companions, confidential friends, and even marriage mates. Mic 7 Verse 6 indicates that this has led to a state of affairs wherein relatives as close as sons and fathers, daughters and mothers, despise one another.
10. In the present-day climate of injustice, how do Christians conduct themselves?
10 What about today? Do we not see similar conditions? Like Micah, we are surrounded by a lack of justice, an atmosphere of distrust, and a breakdown of social and family life. Yet, as God’s servants in the midst of this unrighteous world, we do not allow the spirit of this world’s unjust dealings to infiltrate the Christian congregation. Rather, we strive to uphold the principles of honesty and integrity, displaying these in our daily affairs of life. Indeed, we “conduct ourselves honestly in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18) Do you not agree that by exercising justice we enjoy rich blessings resulting from a brotherhood that manifests real trust?
How Do People Hear “the Very Voice of Jehovah”?
11. How is Micah 7:12 being fulfilled?
11 Micah prophesies that despite unjust conditions, justice will reach all sorts of people. The prophet foretells that people will be gathered “from sea to sea, and from mountain to the mountain” to become worshipers of Jehovah. (Micah 7:12) Today, in the final fulfillment of this prophecy, not one particular nation, but individuals of all nations are benefiting from God’s impartial justice. (Isaiah 42:1) How is this proving true?
12. How is “the very voice of Jehovah” being heard today?
12 For an answer, consider Micah’s earlier words. Micah 6:9 states: “To the city the very voice of Jehovah calls out, and the person of practical wisdom will fear your name.” How do people of all nations hear “the very voice of Jehovah,” and how does this relate to our exercising of justice? Of course, people today do not literally hear God’s voice. Through our worldwide preaching work, however, Jehovah’s voice is being heard by individuals of all races and walks of life. As a result, those who listen ‘fear God’s name,’ coming to have reverential regard for it. We are certainly acting in a just and loving way by serving as zealous Kingdom proclaimers. By making known God’s name to everyone without partiality, we “exercise justice.”
We Must Love Kindness
13. What is the difference between loving-kindness and love?
13 Next, let us discuss the second requirement mentioned at Micah 6:8. Jehovah expects us “to love kindness.” The Hebrew word translated “kindness” is also rendered “loving-kindness,” or “loyal love.” Loving-kindness is an active regard for others, a compassionate concern for them. Loving-kindness differs from the quality of love. How so? Love is a broader term, one that can be extended even to things and concepts. For instance, the Scriptures speak of a person who “is loving wine and oil” and of a man who “is loving wisdom.” (Proverbs 21:17; 29:3) On the other hand, loving-kindness always involves people, especially those serving God. Micah 7:20 therefore speaks of “the loving-kindness given to Abraham”—a man who served Jehovah God.
14, 15. How is loving-kindness shown, and what evidence of it is cited?
14 According to Micah 7:18, the prophet says that God “is delighting in loving-kindness.” At Micah 6:8, we are told not merely to show loving-kindness but to love that quality. What do we learn from these scriptures? Loving-kindness is shown willingly and freely because we want to show it. Like Jehovah, we find pleasure, or delight, in showing loving-kindness to those in need.
15 Today, such loving-kindness is a mark of God’s people. Consider just one example. In June of 2001, a tropical storm caused massive flooding in Texas, U.S.A., damaging thousands of homes, including hundreds of homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses. To help their Christian brothers in need, some 10,000 Witnesses willingly and freely offered their time and energy. For more than half a year, volunteers worked tirelessly, using their days, nights, and weekends to rebuild 8 Kingdom Halls and over 700 homes for their Christian brothers. Those who could not do such work donated food, supplies, and money. Why did all these thousands of Witnesses come to the aid of their brothers? Because they “love kindness.” And how heartwarming it is to know that such deeds of loving-kindness are shown by our brothers worldwide! Yes, meeting the requirement to “love kindness” is, not a burden, but a joy!
Be Modest in Walking With God
16. What illustration helps to emphasize the need to be modest in walking with God?
16 The third requirement found at Micah 6:8 is “to be modest in walking with your God.” This means to recognize our limitations and to depend on God. To illustrate: Picture for a moment a little girl holding on tightly to the hand of her father while they walk through a storm. The girl well knows that her strength is limited, but she has confidence in her father. We too must know our limitations but have confidence in our heavenly Father. How can we maintain this confidence? For one thing, by keeping in mind why it is wise to stay close to God. Micah reminds us of three reasons: Jehovah is our Deliverer, our Guide, and our Protector.
17. How did Jehovah deliver, guide, and protect his people of ancient times?
17 According to Micah 6:4, 5, God says: “I brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” Yes, Jehovah was Israel’s Deliverer. Jehovah further says: “I proceeded to send before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam.” Moses and Aaron were used to guide the nation, and Miriam led the women of Israel in a victory dance. (Exodus 7:1, 2; 15:1, 19-21; Deuteronomy 34:10) Jehovah provided guidance by means of his servants. In Mic 6 verse 5, Jehovah reminds the nation of Israel that he protected them against Balak and Balaam and that he shielded the Israelites during the last leg of their journey from Shittim in Moab to Gilgal in the Promised Land.
18. How does God act as our Deliverer, Guide, and Protector today?
18 As we walk with God, he delivers us from Satan’s world, guides us by means of his Word and his organization, and protects us as a group when we are under attack by opposers. We thus have ample reason to hold on tightly to the hand of our heavenly Father as we walk with him through the stormy final leg of our journey to something far greater than the ancient Promised Land—God’s righteous new world.
19. In what way is modesty related to our limitations?
19 Being modest in walking with God helps us to have a realistic view of our circumstances. This is so because displaying modesty includes being aware of our limitations. Advanced age or failing health may place certain limits on what we can do in Jehovah’s service. Instead of allowing this to discourage us, however, it is good to remember that God accepts our efforts and sacrifices ‘according to what we have, not according to what we do not have.’ (2 Corinthians 8:12) Indeed, Jehovah expects us to serve him in a whole-souled way, doing whatever our circumstances allow. (Colossians 3:23) When we earnestly and zealously do all we can in his service, God blesses us richly.—Proverbs 10:22.
A Waiting Attitude Brings Blessings
20. Being aware of what should help us to display a waiting attitude like that of Micah?
20 Experiencing Jehovah’s blessing moves us to imitate Micah’s spirit. He declares: “I will show a waiting attitude for the God of my salvation.” (Micah 7:7) How do these words relate to our walking modestly with God? Having a waiting attitude, or patience, helps us to avoid feeling disappointed that Jehovah’s day has not yet come. (Proverbs 13:12) Frankly, we all long for the end of this wicked world. However, every week thousands of people are just beginning to walk with God. Knowing that gives us a reason for showing a waiting attitude. One longtime Witness said in this connection: “Looking back over 55 years in the preaching work, I am convinced that I have not lost anything by waiting on Jehovah. On the contrary, I have been spared many heartaches.” Have you had a similar experience?
21, 22. How is Micah 7:14 being fulfilled in our day?
21 Walking with Jehovah unquestionably benefits us. As we read at Micah 7:14, Micah compares God’s people with sheep securely residing with their shepherd. In the larger fulfillment of this prophecy today, the remnant of spiritual Israel as well as the “other sheep” find security with their trusted Shepherd, Jehovah. They reside “alone in a forest—in the midst of an orchard,” spiritually separated from this increasingly troubled and dangerous world.—John 10:16; Deuteronomy 33:28; Jeremiah 49:31; Galatians 6:16.
22 Jehovah’s people enjoy prosperity, as Micah 7:14 also foretold. Speaking about God’s sheep, or people, Micah states: “Let them feed on Bashan and Gilead.” Just as sheep in Bashan and Gilead fed on rich pastures and prospered, so God’s people today enjoy spiritual prosperity—yet another blessing for those walking modestly with God.—Numbers 32:1; Deuteronomy 32:14.
23. What lesson can we learn from considering Micah 7:18, 19?
23 At Micah 7:18, 19, the prophet highlights Jehovah’s desire to forgive those who repent. Mic 7 Verse 18 states that Jehovah is “pardoning error” and is “passing over transgression.” According to Mic 7 verse 19, he “will throw into the depths of the sea all their sins.” What is one lesson that we can draw from this? We may ask ourselves if we imitate Jehovah in this regard. Do we pardon the errors that others may commit against us? When such ones are repentant and seek to make amends, surely we will want to reflect Jehovah’s willingness to forgive completely and permanently.
24. How have you benefited from Micah’s prophecy?
24 How have we benefited from this consideration of Micah’s prophecy? It has reminded us that Jehovah provides true hope for those who are drawn to him. (Micah 2:1-13) We have been encouraged to do everything possible to promote true worship so that we may walk in God’s name forever. (Micah 4:1-5) And we have been assured that whatever our circumstances, we can meet Jehovah’s requirements. Yes, Micah’s prophecy truly strengthens us to walk in Jehovah’s name.
How Would You Answer?
• According to Micah 6:8, what does Jehovah require of us?
• What is necessary if we are “to exercise justice”?
• How can we show that we “love kindness”?
• What is involved in ‘being modest in walking with God’?
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Despite the wicked conditions of his day, Micah lived up to Jehovah’s requirements. So can you
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Exercise justice by witnessing to people of all walks of life
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Show that you love kindness by meeting the needs of others
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Do what you can while modestly recognizing your limitations