Micah 6:8 part 3, walk humbly with your God
This talk was given by Paul Wintle on .
During the talk two video clips were played. Similar clips can be viewed at YouTube clip of President Trump on humility [10s], YouTube clip of Funny walk crossing [1m 51s]. A brief silence has been substituted for these clips in the recording.
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Father God, would you please speak to us through your word. Amen.
It’s two thousand and eighteen. It’s the year where, as you know, I celebrate the one-year anniversary of being and living in Frodsham. It’s the year where Beth turns two – turned two. It’s the year where some people go to high school for the very first time. Might be the year when people retire. It’s the year where we hope and pray for peace in our world. A few weeks ago Ruth reminded us that this is the year that Tearfund turns fifty.
Twenty eighteen is already turning into a remarkable year. We’ve turned the chairs around in our worship area. We’re seeking to become an Eco Church. And of course there is the unknown. Walking in paths unknown. Trusting God for that future for those who, like Star Trek you might remember, the future is the undiscovered country, in Star Trek six.
Our year has begun by a mini-series using the prophet Micah and one of the most famous verses in Scripture: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah chapter six.
The call to act justly is to see justice differently than the rest of the world. The world views justice as appropriate when the punishment matches the crime. We’re called to live differently. We’re called to live differently than the world and as such we’re called to restorative justice.
[aside] Dodgy microphone. Maybe it’s a dodgy voice, I don’t know.
To restore our world. That’s why we’re taking part in Eco Church. To begin reclaiming back that environment which God invites us to, that shalom, that peace, that wholeness between God, one another and ourselves.
We’re also called to love mercy, meaning that in all that we do we show love, compassion, and forgiveness. Dick so eloquently last week used examples of Christ. Through the example of the Good Samaritan; through Peter asking, “How many times, Lord, should I forgive?” and Jesus said not three times, not seven times but seventy times or seven times seventy or seventy times seven. Whichever, it’s a lot and it means we just keep on forgiving.
So mercy is doing just what is right for the other person no matter what. And what a high calling that is. To each other and to the world.
Walking with God in the Bible
And finally, today, our third in our mini-series, we are called to walk humbly with our God.
I hope you’ll find it helpful as we take a short wander, not literally, through bits of the Old Testaments and bits of the New. Where we come up against this word walk and what it has to say to us and our own faith journey today.
Last week Dick put into the context the Micah Chapter six in God’s courtroom where God is responding to his people’s complaints. In turn the people ask God what they should do and in verse eight we have this reply. A heartfelt response to worship God through acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly. Because in the end this summarises exactly what God really wants of his people and what God wanted of his people all along.
Some people like to go on long walks. To get out into the open. With their rucksack on their backs; Val-deri, Val-dera, all that kind of stuff. Others can no longer go out for walks in the country. I admit that I’m not great for a kind of long walks with my dodgy feet but I do think back with a lot of joy, actually, with my probably my favourite day ever. I went for a walk with my friend Dave in the Goyt Valley, part of the Cheshire or Derbyshire peaks, I can’t quite remember. It was a lovely day. He took me to the Goyt Valley. Never been there before and we just talked and wandered and enjoyed the views and it was a very relaxed kind of a day. I kept thinking what have I enjoyed much about this day. Was it the views? Was it the hills? Was it the water? Actually I think it was the company that I kept. It was the company that I kept. Why would I not want to spend a whole day with my best friend, just enjoying each other’s company? Because it’s precisely that sense of being continually in the presence of, the company of, somebody, to travel with them, to wander with them, to be alongside them, to share stories and have that ongoing flow of life, that conversation that that word walk speaks of in the Hebrew. There’s also an element of being carried. There’s also an element of being kind of running with, or to march with. Perhaps that’s a more formal element of our relationship as we walk humbly with God.
And so this [Hebrew] which means walk and this is [Hebrew] which means kind of that more formality, so we’ve get [Hebrew] and [Hebrew] which is the Hebrew. Both are found in the Old Testament, both have that link to being relational.
I wonder what it’s like to go on a walk with God. Wonder if you’ve ever thought about it. We’ve got two quick video clips. One is about a certain presidents who talks about being humble and then there’s a slightly longer one about silly walks.
[Youtube clips, referenced above.]
So how are we walking? How’s that humility coming along?
Turns out that actually there are quite a few passages in the Old Testament and the New that talk about walking with God. I want to just highlight three from the Old Testament and then look at the example of Jesus.
So in the Old Testament it’s a symbol of relationship. Walking is a symbol of relationship.
Genesis chapter five and verse 22 talks about a man called Enoch. And scripture says, after he became the father of Methuselah, who I think became the oldest person in the Bible at the age of 969, so we’re a couple of years off, some of us. Sorry. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Wow. What an amazing statement to be made about a person, not the 300 years but that he walked faithfully with God 300 years. First of all, 300 years is a long time. Second of all, he is remembered for how he lived his life in relationship with God.
Genesis chapter six and verse nine begins the story of Noah. This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time and he walked faithfully with God. If Noah had a tombstone, it would perhaps say, walked faithfully with God. Wouldn’t that be an amazing testimony of one’s life? We all know those sorts of people that we look up to, our own giants of faith.
In Genesis chapter 17 and verse one, God is speaking with Abram, soon to become Abraham. When Abraham was 99 years old – see there’s a theme of age here, isn’t there – when Abraham was 99 years old the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty. Walk before me faithfully and be blameless.” God calls Abraham to walk before him faithfully. We know that Abraham had a very deep relationship with God and was faithful to the point of even being willing to sacrifice his own son just because God asked him to.
My curiosity about passages in the Old Testament where God either works with people or called people to walk with him led me to those verses and there are more, there are lots more.
In Leviticus Chapter 26, God says to the people of Israel, the whole people of Israel, in the desert, “I will walk with you and be your God. You will be my people.” This is the chapter after we read about the Jubilee a couple of weeks ago where, after 50 years, the people should let the slaves go, go back to their families, let the earth lie fellow for a year, and let the world breathe again. God promises to be in relationship with the people of Israel. When he said, “I will walk among you,” he’s saying, “I’m in it for the long haul. I am with you, not just now but always.” He is Covenanting, he is promising to be with those people through thick and thin.
in Isaiah chapter 30 verse 12 [verse 21], God says, “Whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way. Walk in it.’ ” And so God is our refuge and our guide.
And even Micah has another reference to walking. Micah chapter four verse five, he writes, “All the nations may walk in the name of their gods but we we will walk in the name of our Lord for ever and ever.” In some translations we’ve got the word follow but walk is perfectly adequate and perhaps more relational and active. It’s pretty significant to point out the significance of what it means to walk in context of the Old Testament because walking means relationship, going through the good times and the bad times together. Walking is not a one-time thing; it’s a commitment.
And, you know, the New Testament has got something to say about walking, too. In John chapter eight verse 12, John says this, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” And so, when we follow Christ we will not live or walk in the darkness. In fact we can’t have a relationship with the darkness and the light, so when we’re walking with Christ in the lights we can’t be in darkness.
And so there’s certainly a lot of walking that happens in the Bible. And I wonder if this walking still applies to us today. After all, we’re more of a society that is dependent on flying or driving. Maybe we could substitute Micah’s words. Drive for walk, maybe? Drive humbly with your God. That has simply interesting implications, doesn’t it? But I don’t think it quite conveys the same message. The message of a relationship, a journey through thick and thin together.
Walking like Jesus
The writer of 1 John writes about walking and even gives us a great example to follow as we walk. 1 John chapter three verses two to six. “By this we know that we have come to him, if we keep his commands. The one who says I’ve come to know him and doesn’t keep his commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, in him or her the love of God has been truly perfected. By this we know that we are in him, the one who says they abide in him ought to walk in the same manner as Jesus walked.” We are called to walk like Jesus. In 1 John, if we’re saying that Jesus is our example, we are to walk as he walked.
So how does this all tie in with Micah chapter six in verse eight? Jesus, of course. Jesus is the ultimate example of walking humbly. He not only walked humbly through life but he shows us what it’s like to perfectly love God and love others. He put himself before others, pointing them to his father.
And there’s an early church hymn, which is recorded in Philippians two, that beautifully shows us that humble life of Jesus. I think we know it quite well. “In your relationships,” one verse says, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindsets as Christ Jesus who, being very nature God, didn’t consider equality with God something to be used for his own advantage. Rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant. Being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth; and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” What an amazing passage. We see here that Jesus humbled himself when he came to earth as a baby. As I once said to my youth group in Gillingham, God in a bod.
He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death. Christmas is where we see Jesus’ most humbling beginnings. Born in a stable. Born little, weak, and helpless, as we sing. Trusting his mother to care. Christ became what we are, human. He was fully human and fully God at the same time. He wrapped himself in humanity. He took all the sin of the world on his shoulders. He was tempted. He experienced life and death and sadness. He ate and he drank and slept. For he was fully human and yet at the same time he was fully God. Which means that he alone could save the world and us from our fallen state.
Christ lives an entire life of humanity as an example for us and so we are to walk as he walked. We are to be humble, to take up our cross, to follow him.
Yet we know that following Christ is not easy. We see in Hebrews chapter 11 what the lives of the faithful look like and some of them ended up in persecution and death. Another reason why we should pray for our Christian family in other parts of the world.
Maybe we all need a reminder from time to time. Maybe we need to take some time to examine ourselves and ask the tough questions. Are we walking humbly with God? Are we walking as Jesus walked?
It is, it’s a big ask. Following Jesus and living like him doesn’t make sense in this world. God’s justice isn’t the world’s justice. God’s mercy is not the world’s mercy. God’s way of life, a life of humility, is not the world’s way. For we know that God is notorious for flipping the expectations of the world upside down. We are called to be God’s people, God’s kingdom here, making a difference in our world.
And so let’s resolve to live lives patterned after Christ’s. Where we are not noticed for what the world deems worthy but we are noticed for acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God. Not out of a sense of duty but because we love walking with God, because we have that relationship with him, because we love acting as though Jesus were living in us. Because we are. As we’ve shared in communion, it’s almost a symbolic way of saying I want Jesus living inside me again. I take in those elements, Jesus living in me by His Holy Spirit. Because we invite him to. And because he says, all right then – I’ll journey with you.
Galatians chapter five and verse 16 in the New American Standard Bible instructs us to walk by the Spirit. That action again, as we are prompted to live in a Godly way because he lives in us by his Spirit and so our lives are transformed.
Let’s make it our aim each day to be filled with the Spirit of God, to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with him who lives in us.
Shall we have a moment to reflect?
Lord God, we know that we don’t always do what you ask us to do. We know that you’re a forgiving God who loves to come to us and to forgive us, to brush us down, stand us on our two feet again and say, Come on then, let’s walk together.
This week, Father God, would you help us to know where you are leading us. Perhaps we need to follow you more more nearly.
Pray that you would please help us to listen to your footsteps and to walk in them.
Pray that we would be able to walk beside you not just follow you. Help us not to run off into the distance without you.
By your Spirit, Lord God, would you please help us to live by your side.
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