Let us take note for a minute what the word 'require' means. A requirement
is something that must be done to fulfill a condition. It means having the ability
and skills to do a particular thing. Before we can win a prize, we are required
to meet the conditions. So when we use the word in the Bible, it usually means
that certain conditions must exist before something will happen.
God has many requirements. God teaches that if one were to make an oath, that person would be required to keep it. (Deuteronomy 23:21). God said that the murder of a life should require capital punishment (Genesis 9:5)
Deuteronomy 18:18-19 speaks of Christ, and whoever does not listen to Christ so as to obey Him, God will require it of him. In other words, God is going to hold everyone accountable for either doing what they should do, or not doing what they should have done. God holds each person accountable for everything He has commanded. When someone does not do what they should have done, the Lord will require it of them.
There are a few verses that describe what the Lord requires of His people. In Deuteronomy 10:12-13, we read: " And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord, your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord's commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?"
In Micah 6:8 we read: "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?"
Both of these statements are presented in the form of a question. The writers are inquiring of the people if they know what God requires of them. Notice what is recorded is what God requires of each person.
First of all, to fear the Lord, and keep His commandments is at the top of the list. Ecclesiastes 12:13 tells us this is the whole duty of man. To have the reverential fear of God, and do what He commands. This serving of God and keeping of the commandments is to be done with the heart involved. We should not give God lip-service. As Isaiah said: "these people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" (Isaiah 29:13).
Micah teaches us that the Lord's requirements begin with doing justice. This has to do with our relationships with people. Treating them fairly and justly is what God wants from us. God teaches that a short measure is an abomination. God teaches that cheating people is wrong. God teaches that we should treat others the way we would want to be treated. Micah also teaches that we are to love kindness. Kindness shows a lot of humble qualities. Not only should we be doing acts of kindness, we should appreciate those others who do the acts of kindness. Finally, humbling ourselves before God is a great thing. This involves denying ourselves as our Lord taught us that we would be required to deny ourselves. Humility is a necessity to approach God. It means that we have recognized that God is much greater than we are, and we submit to God in everything. Submitting to God means that we do His will above or beyond our own desires and wishes.
Of course, all of this is just the most basic of what our duty to God involves. It requires the whole heart be devoted to doing God's will that God has commanded us to do.
There are those who observe the commandments without learning God's most important commands. The commands to show compassion and to demonstrate love should rank at the top of anyone's priorities. Yet often we see that is not done. Many people will emphasize law-keeping and not consider the emphasis that God requires of us. In Micah 6:6 we read that: "I require(desire) compassion, and not sacrifice" This does not mean that we are exempt from sacrifice, but that showing compassion is more important as far as God is concerned.
This is similar to the statement of Samuel to Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22 "Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? The point Samuel was telling Saul was that obedience from the heart is better than mere outward expressions of piety. Jesus talked during the Sermon on the Mount about those who were seeking the praises of men. They appear to be righteous, but their show was for man and not for the praise of God. We also need to be careful that our actions are done for the glory of God, and not our own upbuilding or egotistical appearance.
This does not mean that law-keeping is not important; indeed it is vital to our soul’s salvation. But what God teaches us is that how we treat others is more important for us to consider. Love is one of those qualities that God commands. But if we have no love, we will show no compassion towards others. Jesus taught that love is the foundation of the whole of God's laws. This is how we demonstrate our love to Jesus (and God) by showing love to others. Showing compassion to others is a quality that God requires of us. That is what makes our law-keeping meaningful.
Jesus said that if we keep His commandments, we demonstrate our love to Him. This is what God wants. Our love, to God demonstrated by keeping His commandments, and our compassion by showing love towards others. When we learn to treat others with care, concern, and compassion, we become more like Jesus.
By Carey Scott
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