What in the world does God want ME to do?
Our world is wrong but one day all will be made right!
Can you imagine the word of hope that is to many people in the world today?
A beloved family raises a precious young daughter. They love her, nurture her, raise her and teach her to love God.
She grows and grows into the brightest, most beautiful young lady – last year she was voted on the campus of Baylor University as class beauty. Many commented on her award and said, “Caitlin Creed was beautiful. She was even more beautiful on the inside than on the outside.”
Caitlin traveled from Waco to Tyler to stay the weekend last May her Grandparents – she needed some TLC and she needed to study for finals. All weekend her “Poppy” and “Granny” waited on her “hand and foot”. They pulled out all the stops. Whatever Caitlin wanted, Caitlin got. She studied herself full and then readied herself for the journey back to Waco to actually take the tests. With plenty of hugs and kisses and love from Grandparents, Caitlin loaded her car and left. On the way to Waco, a lady whose blood alcohol level was three times more than the law allows – made the poor choice of getting behind the wheel and drive her car. Are you with me? She fell asleep, totally relaxed she crossed four lanes, went over two embankments and her car hit Caitlin Creed’s car head-on. Caitlin Creed probably never knew what hit her.
Our World is WRONG and needs to be made right!
Did you ever wonder, Oh, God, will it ever be made right?
God when will the wars stop? God when will people stop fighting and begin listening to YOU and to one another?
God when will people stop hating and start loving?
God when will the rich stop being so greedy and when will the needy begin to have enough?
Did you ever wonder, “How in the world did things get so BAD?” The Bible gives us a strong clue…
The end of the Book of Judges may be the low point of the OT. It plums the depths of depravity in the national life of the covenant people to the time it occurs, to be sure. No central leadership of worth, no local leadership of note; so every man just goes home and looks out for himself and his own.
Judges 21:24 and 25-“And the children of Israel departed thence at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from thence every man to his inheritance. In those days there was no king in Israel:
“Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
From that day until this day men and women have been doing just that – we have been doing “which is right in our own eyes…”
This causes problems because we keep on breaking God’s laws. You will remember that God gave us some laws to follow. To be in a right relationship with God (VERTICAL) and a right relationship with fellow man (horizontal) God gave us 10 Commandments. God did not give us 10 SUGGESTIONS. God did not give us 10 OPTIONS. God gave us 10 COMMANDMENTS.
People are so funny. No sooner had Moses come down from that Mountain than he had taken the black and white 10 Commandments and added their own twist, their “spin” on God’s basic laws. 633 laws later and everybody confused about what really was the right thing to do – “every man did what was right in own eyes…”
LAWS that should lead us so often blind us, confuse us. Have you ever had trouble obeying the law? Let me follow you down the highway and see if you drive over the speed limit and then I’ll tell you if you always OBEY the law. But some laws on the books are old and out of date.
• In Massachusetts, you can be put in jail for one year if you are caught whistling underwater.
• In Tennessee, a woman can be sentenced to five years in jail if she calls a man on a telephone.
• In Texas, you’ll pay a $500 fine if you are caught drinking milk from any other cow than your own.
• In West Virginia, it is illegal for a preacher to tell a funny story from the pulpit.
We come to a place in our lives and we ask – “God what can I do? God what do you expect from me? God what do you require of us, each and every person?
If you’ve ever asked God those kinds of questions, then today is your day. We are going to dust off one of the far reaches of the Old Testament and read about a man – God called him a PROPHET – not a PROFIT. A Prophet had one basic message: “Thus saith the Lord…”
Isn’t that a needed message today? Don’t we need today to hear someone stand from among us and say, “God has given me a burden so great…” “God is tired of the way you are living life – you who claim to know God – but all you really do is know about God.”
Micah was God’s man for the hour. The nation of Judah had declined and decayed and detoured. Micah pointed the people toward God. Micah said that apart from a Holy God who alone is able to come in and he will not tiptoe…friend, Our God will TREAD, will TROUNCE upon this land and this people – and our only HOPE is in the ONE TRUE GOD. Look to Him. Listen to Him. Place your Trust in Him. Give your life to Him. If you do this, you will live. If you do not do this you will be destroyed.
1. God wants us to do justice.
Micah highlights three things that everyone can do, and he starts with a command to "do justice."
Think for a moment about how mad you get when somebody treats you unfairly. Every one of us in here could tell stories of injustice, and our blood will boil pretty quickly.
Dave Hagler, a former referee and umpire, has the ultimate story of justice. "I was driving too fast in the snow in Boulder, Colorado," he writes in an LA Times story, "and a policeman pulled me over and gave me a speeding ticket. I tried to talk him out of it, telling him how worried I was about insurance, what a good driver I am, and so on. He told me if I didn't like it, I could go to court. First game of the next baseball season, I'm umpiring behind home plate, and the first batter up is the same policeman. I recognize him; he recognizes me. He asks me, 'How did the thing with the ticket go?' I tell him, 'Swing at everything.'"
We hate it when somebody treats us unfairly. If it happens in my work, with my friends, or even in my family, we tell those stories. We dream about how to get revenge. Most of the movies we go to see are about somebody getting hurt and wronged, and then trying to get revenge.
God is telling you, through Micah, to get at least as energized about someone else being the victim of injustice as you are when you're the victim. In particular, be concerned about injustice to those you might be inclined to overlook. It goes on everyday in our world.
To do justly simply means to do what’s right.
A UCLA professor posed this question to his Medical Ethics class: How would you advise the following patient concerning pregnancy and the possibility of abortion? The father has syphilis. The mother has tuberculosis. Their first child was born blind. Their second child died at childbirth. The third child was born deaf. The fourth child contracted tuberculosis. Now the mother is pregnant again.
Seventy percent of the students said, “Abort the child.”
“Congratulations,” said the professor. “You just aborted Beethoven, for that was his family history.”
One day God will make EVERY WRONG – RIGHT!
Until that day God says – “I’m depending on you – YOU are MY people, You are called by MY name – DO JUSTICE!”
2. God wants us to love kindness.
And then, love kindness. The word Micah uses is hesed. In the Old Testament, it is the word most closely associated with God's lovingkindness expressed in the covenant, which is the basis of his relationship with human beings. It is steadfast love that always seeks to express itself in action.
3. God wants us to walk humbly with him.
Do justice. Love kindness. And the third—walk humbly before your God. I think Micah included that one because it's hard work to be a Prophet and not get self-righteous about it. Did you ever notice that? Ever see anybody in a church who loves to go around correcting other people? There's a kind of person who loves to do that, who loves to pass judgment in a spirit of arrogant superiority, which they then cover up by saying, "I'm a Prophet. I have the gift of prophecy." There is a very important theological distinction between being Prophet and being a jerk. What burns most deeply in the heart of a true Prophet is not anger; it's love.
To Walk Humbly…
To walk humbly means to walk in dependency.
Can you imagine what would happen if we all made it the focus of our lives to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly before our God?
In the final chapter of his book, Micah says eyes will be opened up and the message of the Prophets will be understood. In Micah 7:16–19, he writes, "Nations will see and be ashamed … They will come trembling out of their dens and turn in fear to the Lord our God and will be afraid of you. Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives transgressions … You will again have compassion on us and hurl our iniquities into the depths of the sea."
What does God require of you? Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before the Lord your God. But will you really do it? Because I just want to tell you—it's a big deal.
WHAT THE LORD REQUIRES
A Topical Study of
“What in the world do you want from me?” Wives ask their husbands this question and husbands their wives. Children pose it to their parents, employees to their bosses, and athletes to their coaches.
The people of Israel asked the prophet in Israel, “What does the Lord want from us? Does He want us to bring Him a sacrifice of young calves or rams by the thousands? How about costly rivers of oil or our firstborn sons? What does the Lord want from us, anyway?”
“He hath shown thee,” Micah declared. “He’s already given you His Word.”
On the scene three hundred years before Micah, David understood that the Lord had already revealed His heart to His people very clearly in the law given to Israel…
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Psalm 19:7–11
“There’s great reward in knowing and keeping the Law of the Lord,” David declared. “It makes simple people wise. It gives understanding and light.” This is not the case with many of our country’s laws…
Likewise, people tend to think of the Old Testament law as outdated and irrelevant. But nothing could be farther from the truth. The National Institute of Health is currently studying Old Testament teachings concerning hygiene and sexual practices. Why? Because our country is currently scourged with AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases—new strains and viruses which seem to appear weekly.
“Let’s take another look at what the ancient Hebrews did to ward off such diseases,” says the NIH. And guess what. They’re finding that the rules and dietary regulations embedded in the Mosaic Law make perfect medical sense, that in keeping them there is indeed great reward, that God knew best all along.
The problem is, we can know this to be true and still shy away from the law because it seems like there’s so much to it. Indeed there is. According to rabbinical tradition, there are six hundred thirteen specific commandments given in the law. And if you’re like me, that’s a few too many to get a handle on. So the Lord in His great kindness simplified things when He inspired David to give somewhat of a summary in Psalm 15…
Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. Psalm 15
David distills the six hundred thirteen commandments of the law to eleven. But even eleven might be too many. So a couple of hundred years later, the Lord simplified it even further here in Micah 6…
To Do Justly…
There are a number of preachers and lawyers, doctors and philosophers saying, “There are no absolutes. Only the situation determines what’s right and wrong.” But that’s not what God says. He says to do justly. Period.
You deposit two quarters in the paper box and accidentally grab two papers. Do you say, “Oh, well, I’ll just leave the extra paper on top of the box for someone else”—or do you say, “I owe the publishing company fifty cents,” and put another fifty cents in the box without taking another paper?
It’s Thursday, garbage day. You know the regulation is thirty-five pounds per can. But you also know you have tons of trash. Do you stuff your can and jump on it to make room for your two hundred pounds of garbage, telling yourself that, for the last three weeks, you only put in ten pounds and so you’re justified? Or do you hold to the thirty-five-pound requirement and take the rest to the dump?
The Lord requires us to do justly, to walk in integrity. But that doesn’t always mean we’ll be rewarded. Seeing a bee drowning in our backyard swimming pool, my daughter, Jessie, scooped him out and set him on the grass. After drying himself off, the bee flew away, rejoicing in his deliverance. The next day, my wife, Tammy, was in the backyard. She, too, saw a bee drowning and, remembering Jessie’s example, scooped him out. This bee also dried himself off—then flew straight to Tammy and stung her.
Sometimes that happens. We do what’s right and end up getting stung. But, because the Lord is not unfaithful to forget our works of righteousness (Hebrews 6:10), He says, “Even though no one else notices, even though it may not be a big deal in the eyes of others, when you do justly, you’ll be rewarded eventually—even if you get stung in this life presently.”
To Love Mercy…
If you and I do justly, do you know what can happen very easily? We can stick up our noses and say, “Why is he sinning? Why isn’t she doing better? Why can’t everyone be as good as I?”
Listen again to what God says: Do justly, but love mercy. In other words, “You do what’s right, but when it comes to others, look for every opportunity to show mercy.” We are not by nature merciful. Our tendency is to want to get back at people who hurt us.
A skinny guy sat at the truck stop counter, enjoying his breakfast when suddenly three big bikers burst through the door, decked out in black leather and silver chains. Wanting to provoke a fight, they grabbed his plate and began scarfing down what was left of his breakfast. But the skinny guy just watched them. When they were done, he calmly paid the bill and walked out the door.
“Can you believe that wimp?” said the bikers to the waitress. “Not much of a man, is he?”
“Maybe not,” she said, as she looked out the window. “But he’s not much of a truck driver either. He just ran over three motorcycles.”
That’s our nature—but not God’s. He wants us to love mercy, to revel in it, to recklessly look for every opportunity to share it.
Jesus gives us a profound insight into mercy when He says,
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Luke 6:38
Maybe you’ve heard television evangelists use this passage to say, “Give to my ministry and you’ll be rewarded financially.” But that’s not what Jesus was saying. In verses 36 and 37, we see He was talking about mercy, saying the degree to which you substitute mercy for judgment is the degree to which men will be merciful to you.
While conversing with a lawyer at a dinner party, a doctor was interrupted by a woman asking for advice concerning an ache in her leg. Irritated by her interruption, the doctor gave her a piece of advice and sent her on her way.
“Tell me,” he said to the lawyer, “do I have the legal right to bill her for the advice I gave her?”
“Certainly,” said the lawyer.
Two days later, the doctor found a bill for $500 in his mailbox—for the advice the lawyer had given him.
Judge others and you’ll be judged. On the other hand, if you show mercy and love and forgiveness and largeness of heart, people will show the same to you. I always love to be around gracious people, people who are eager to show mercy. How I want that quality in my own life.
Sixty-three percent of all accidents on stairways come from people going up the stairs. Why? Because people going downstairs tend to walk more carefully. So too, it is when we’re on our way “up” in life that pride creeps in—a poison that manifests itself first and foremost in prayerlessness. Whenever we think we can live our lives on our own, we stop praying, and, thus, no longer walk humbly with God.
The year was 1911 when Bobby Leach became the first man to survive tumbling over Niagara Falls in an apple barrel. For the next six months, he toured the country, giving lectures on his feat—until he slipped on a banana peel and broke his neck. The Bible says that pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). Whenever you’re tempted to think you don’t need to pray, that devotions are not important, that you are doing well—remember Bobby Leach because you don’t know what banana peel is ahead of you.
God says, “This is what I require for your own benefit, for your own blessing: that you do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Me.” From six hundred thirteen commandments down to three. But if three are still too many for you to remember, Jesus makes it simpler still…
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 22:36–39
Jesus reduces Micah’s three commandments to two: Love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hangs the entire law.
The use of the word, “hang,” I believe, is far more than coincidental, for it is only because Jesus hung on the Cross that we can understand the two great commandments.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Nowhere are the two great commandments more perfectly fulfilled than at Calvary—where, in obedience to His Father, Jesus died for His neighbor.
Precious people, it all gets down to a single syllable: Love. Paul said, “If I have the tongues of men and angels but have not love, it’s nothing. If I give my body to be burned because I’m so radical in service but I don’t have love, it’s to no avail. If I have enough faith to do miracles but have not love, it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. It all gets down to love” (see 1 Corinthians 13).
“Uh-oh,” you say. “If it all gets down to love, I’m in trouble.”
That’s what Peter thought…
“Do you love Me, Peter?” Jesus asked.
“What can I say, Lord? I denied You. I disobeyed You. How can I say I love You?” Peter answered.
A second time Jesus said, “Peter, do you love Me?”
And a second time, Peter answered, “Lord, You know I like You.”
The third time Jesus asked the question, He framed it a little differently, saying, “Peter, do you even like Me?”
“Yes, Lord, You know I like You,” Peter answered.
“I’ll accept that,” Jesus said. “Feed My sheep” (John 21:15–17).
God so loved us that He gave His only Son to die for our sins—including our sin of not loving Him.
Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. Micah 7:18
From six hundred thirteen to eleven to three to one. Yet even when, like Peter, we fail, Jesus comes to us where we are with pardon and mercy.
He has shown thee what is good: Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God. If that’s too hard to remember, it’s all summed up in a single syllable: love. And if even that’s too hard, rather than relying on your love for Him, rest in His love for you.
In Jesus’ Name.
Courson, J. (2006). Jon Courson's application commentary : Volume two : Psalms-Malachi (839). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
Text: Micah 6:6–8
Topic: How Christians should respond to injustice
I want to talk to you about a concern that lies at the heart of the Prophets, but let's start with a question. Think about the basic human emotions—joy, sadness, comfort, anger, and serenity—and tell me, which emotion do you think most often characterizes the Prophets? Don't the Prophets strike you as kind of cranky? Honestly. Let me give you a few examples. Amos said, "Hear this word, you cows of Bashan … who oppress the poor and crush the needy" (Amos 4:1). Isaiah says, "Stop bringing meaningless offerings. Your incense is detestable to me … I cannot bear your evil assemblies" (Isaiah 1:13).
Micah 3:1–3 says, "Should you not know justice, you who hate good and love evil—who tear the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones, who eat my people's flesh, strip off their skin, break their bones in pieces, chop them up like meat for the pan?" Doesn't that sound a little over-the-top to you?
Not only do they use angry words, but Prophets also resort to shock tactics that often look downright bizarre. Hosea marries a prostitute to show how unfaithful the Israelites have become. Ezekiel eats food cooked over excrement to show how defiled God's people have become. Jeremiah digs up a filthy, buried, unwashed undergarment to use as an object lesson to show people how repellent their behavior is to God. The Prophets are filled with stuff like this, and we don't like it. We like happy books. So why should we read the Prophets?
We need to hear the message of the Prophets.
For one thing, we do it because they're in the Bible. It would not be a good thing to have Obadiah walk up to you and say, "How'd you like my book?" and then for you to say, "Well, I didn't actually read it. It was in a bad location and it was too whiney." More than that, there is a reason why God chose 17 books of the Bible to be the books of the Prophets. There is a reason for the anger of the Prophets. There is a reason why we, maybe more than almost any Christians in any other era, need to submit ourselves to the discipline of regularly sitting under their words. I'll try to explain to you why.
Imagine you're listening to somebody sing, and they're singing off key and loudly. Some of you have just recently had that experience. Now, if you're musically insensitive—if you have a tin ear—it doesn't bother you much. If you have a tin ear and the singer is your grandchild, it may even give you pleasure. But if you're musically sensitive—if you have perfect pitch—it's a different story. You know what the song could be and should be; you know how far it's off. You look at tin-eared grandma and wonder, How can she listen to this? How can she stand it? This is painful to you. You're in agony. Now imagine listening to that horrible sound minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, and year after year.
We read the Prophets and think, What's the big deal? What are they getting so heated up about? Society's not so bad. Things are generally going okay for me. I know there's violence in the world—and it's regrettable—but as long as it doesn't touch my life, I'd prefer not to think much about it. Certainly that violence couldn't be connected to my anger, my hostility, my indifference, or my lack of love. Cheating is another example. I know it's not ideal, but it goes on every day in the business world. Pick up the business section. Pick up the newspaper. It's just the way things are!
The same thing goes for poverty and disease. Eight thousand children and young people are born with or infected with HIV every day in sub-Saharan Africa. It's now the leading cause of death. A few miles from this very room, children are growing up in ghettos or slums or barrios. They are born in desperate poverty. They will grow up without access to decent education or medicine or housing. But we think, They're not my children. Maybe their parents did something to deserve it! And so what if the poor sometimes got the shaft in ancient Palestine? Where is it any different? Why go off the deep end? Somebody shaves the truth a little for profit. Somebody ignores the poor. Somebody gets a little wrapped up in their own comfort, a little careless about remembering those in need, and the Prophets act like the world's falling apart!
Jesus, who the Scriptures say was also a Prophet, insists that every time someone is in prison and doesn't get visited, every time somebody's hungry and doesn't get fed, every time somebody's naked and doesn't get clothed, he's the one who suffers. Jesus dies a little bit. What's the big deal? we think. What are you guys getting all heated up about?
Let me explain to you "the big deal." The Prophets were given a heavy burden of looking at our world and seeing what God sees and knowing what God knows and feeling what God feels—and it crushed them. They saw rich people trying to get richer, looking the other way while poor people died. They assumed God was pleased with their lives and the world was getting along pretty well.
We really don't want to know the truth about what our sin has done in our lives and to our world. We would prefer not to know because that would make us uncomfortable. Micah spoke for all the Prophets when he said, "If a liar and deceiver comes and says, 'I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,' he would be just the Prophet for this people'" (Micah 2:11).
What does beer do? Does it make you more comfortable or more alert? It makes you more comfortable! Micah says the people want a Prophet of comfort.
Listen to the words of Abraham Heschel, one of the great students of the Prophets of the 20th century: "The shallowness of our moral comprehension, the incapacity to sense the depth of misery caused by our own failures, is a simple fact of fallen humanity which no explanation can justify or hide."
The events that horrified and appalled and broke and crushed the Prophets are everyday occurrences in our world. We don't want to know. We don't want to see. We don't want anybody to tell us about human misery and injustice. We just get used to it—like you get used to wearing your watch or you get used to the stuff you haven't fixed around the house. After awhile, you just don't notice anymore. But the Prophets noticed. That was their gift. That was their burden. The Prophets noticed.
Heschel also said: "The Prophet is a man who feels fiercely. God has thrust a burden upon his soul, and he is bowed and stunned at man's fierce greed. Prophecy is the voice God has lent to the silent agony. God is raging in the Prophet's words."
God is raging in the Prophets' words. The Prophets really do speak for God. They see what God sees. They speak what God feels, and we omit them from our lives. We omit them from our reading of Scripture. We omit them from residence in our minds at the peril of our own souls and of our world.
So how do we respond? What should we do? Should we just be paralyzed by the immensity of injustice in this world? Should we just sit around doing nothing but feeling intense guilt because of our own complicity in it?
The Prophet Micah sums up the response God is looking for. It's one of the most magnificent statements ever uttered by a human being, and it's the only statement that I'll ask you to carry away tonight. If you grasp this, you grasp the heart of the Prophets. Micah 6:6–8 (RSV):
"With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams? 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?"
Notice the escalation in the text. Everyone could afford burnt offerings. Not many could afford a calf that is a year old. As for a thousand rams, only the king could offer that. Ten thousand rivers of oil are well beyond what anybody could do. The sacrifice of a firstborn child is a pagan ritual that surrounded Israelite culture. Is that what God wants? No.
"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
Micah says: You can pretend and act confused about what God wants, but he has shown you. From the very beginning, God has been quite clear about what he wants.
This is from a tremendous book by Miroslav Volf, a great Christian thinker in our day. It's called Exclusion and Embrace. It's a first person story from a woman who lives in Eastern Europe. "I'm a Muslim," she said. "I'm 35 years old. To my second son I gave the name 'Jihad,' so he would not forget the testament of his mother—revenge. The first time I put my baby at my breast, I told him, 'May this milk choke you if you forget.' The Serbs taught me how to hate."
The woman goes on to describe her work as a teacher—how the very people she taught and cared for became her enemies. She says, "My student Zoran, the only son of my neighbor, urinated into my mouth. As the bearded hooligans stood around laughing, he told me, 'You are good for nothing else, you stinking Muslim woman.'"
We live in a world where injustice, large and small, goes on everyday, everywhere. Micah says this is what God requires of you: Do justice. Be an agent of justice. I can't correct all the injustice of the world, but I can do something. I can notice. I can read. I can study. I can be thoughtful about what's going on in this world. I can pay attention to which governments and companies are being just and which are not. I can pray. I can ask God to help me treat others fairly. I can at least have the courage to stand up for people who are getting treated unfairly in my little world—in my school, my office, my neighborhood, and my home. I, who have so much more than I need, so much more than I deserve, I can give some of what I have to others who have no food or no home or no hope. You know what the Lord requires of you. Do justice.
In a town called Paradise, California, lives a young man named John Gilbert. When he was five years old, John was diagnosed with Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy. It is genetic, progressive, and cruel. He was told it would eventually destroy every muscle in his body and in a decade or so, take his life.
Every year, John lost something. One year, it was the ability to run. Another year, he could no longer walk straight. He's 25 now. When he couldn't do anything else, he could operate a mouse. He's written an unbelievable manuscript of his life, 90 pages long. He writes that junior high was the hardest era of his life. It is for almost everybody. Tony Campolo has said Roman Catholic theology is right—there really is such a thing as purgatory, and it's junior high. It was worse for John, though. He was bullied and humiliated until he was afraid to go to school. No one ever stood up for him, maybe because they were afraid for themselves—afraid to do justice and show kindness.
But there were other moments in John's life where kindness was shown. One year, when he was just a child, he was named California's ambassador for Muscular Dystrophy. He and his mother were ushered into a private meeting with the governor in Sacramento. The governor took out a large glass jar of candy and told John to dig in. John looked at his mom, and she said it was okay to take one piece. The governor said he was the governor, and John should do what he said. So John stuffed his pockets!
Later that night, the NFL sponsored a fundraising auction dinner at which John was a guest. Players let him hold their huge SuperBowl rings, which slid up to John's wrists. And when the auction began, one item especially caught his attention. It was a basketball that was signed by all the players of the Sacramento Kings NBA team. John got a little carried away about that, because when that ball was being bid for, he raised his hand. As soon as it went up, his mom flagged it down. "Astronauts never felt as many Gs as my wrist did that night," he said.
Bidding for that basketball went to an astounding amount for an item that was not the most valuable treasure on the docket. Eventually, one man named a figure that shocked the whole room. Nobody could match it. The guy went to the front and collected his prize, but instead of returning to his seat, the man walked across the room and placed the basketball in the small, thin hands of the boy who had admired it so intently. He put it in hands that would never dribble it down a court, never throw it to a teammate on a fast break, and never fire it from three-point range. John says the whole room just came undone. Every heart melted.
You have so much health and time, a brand new day, and more resources than you know how to consume—have you bought a basketball for anybody lately? Do you love kindness? That's what the Lord requires of us.
C. S. Lewis wrote, "Anger is the fluid that love bleeds when it gets cut." And God's anger is fierce when he sees injustice and greed and oppression, because God's love is fiercer still. A true Prophet remembers that she or he, too, is one of the sinful people who helped mess up this world, and so they walk humbly.