“Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams? Will he take delight in 10,000 rivers of olive oil? Should we offer our oldest sons for the wrong things we’ve done? Should we sacrifice our own children to pay for our sins?” Micah 6:7
At the end of a very long week, my son came home from school visibly upset. He and a friend had been goofing around in class, and his teacher’s frustration had escalated to the threat of assigning a punishment, but no final communications had occurred.
Guilt is a powerful emotion which can cause us to carry a burden that isn’t ours. As my son explained all that had transpired, I was relieved. My guess as to why an actual detention had not been assigned is that after reflection the teacher realized she had overreacted and blown things out of proportion. An honest mistake we’ve all experienced at some point.
The difference here was that the teacher’s frustration had been absorbed by my son and the lack of resolution was too much to deal with. After explaining his actions, my son went to lay out the punishment he had decided was appropriate. He had decided to take away Xbox time as well as add chores to his list.
I pointed out that the restrictions seemed like overkill, and that I didn’t think it was necessary. Still, my son had decided he could remove his guilt by punishing himself.
The Israelites tried a similar tactic. When they were once again facing God’s wrath for disobedience, and it is Micah’s job to call them back to their creator. Legalism at it’s finest twists God’s call to walk humbly with him into a requirement to sacrifice a child.
Micah 6 reminds us of what is required of a man to delight God:
- Do Justice
- Love Kindness
- Walk humbly with your God
The details have been outlined, God has extended a clear boundary to live within. Free will is always present.
“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?” Micah 6:8
Free will allows us to choose to live our lives, the lives God gave us, anyway we desire. It is the reason legalism leaves us exhausted and does not ease our conscience. There is always a consequence for living outside of God’s boundaries. It may not be immediate, but it is our choice to disobey, and it is God’s choice to respond, or not to answer.
“The voice of the Lord will call to the city—And it is sound wisdom to fear Your name:
“Hear, O tribe. Who has appointed its time? “Is there yet a man in the wicked house, Along with treasures of wickedness And a short measure that is cursed? “Can I justify wicked scales And a bag of deceptive weights? “For the rich men of the city are full of violence, Her residents speak lies, And their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.
“So also I will make you sick, striking you down, Desolating you because of your sins. “You will eat, but you will not be satisfied, And your vileness will be in your midst.” Micah 6:9-14
My son woke up the next morning after his evening of restrictions had not lifted his guilt he requested he be driven to school early. He spoke with his teacher and apologized.
A few hours later I received an email from her indicating that the situation had been resolved, and as I had suspected, she had never intended to follow through on her threat. Still, she was struck by my son’s desire to have a resolution and to move forward.
God delights in us when we walk humbly with him.
It took humility to admit wrong-doing, and it took bravery to have a hard conversation with his teacher. When my son returned home, the burden had been lifted. He explained he had spoken with his teacher, and then asked to play Xbox. There was no need to continue to punish himself.
I wish I could say that I’ve never tried to win God’s delight with actions, but watching my son try to shed his guilt I was reminded of my personal previous attempts through the years. So many wasted days, so much wasted energy.