What does God expect from those who want to worship him acceptably? Does he demand perfection, thus making it impossible for us imperfect humans to please him? Or does he expect only what is within our reach? The answers to these questions are vital if we are to find joy in serving God. The prophet Micah summed up God's requirements at Micah 6:8 - "He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is God asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God."
"He has told you...what is good." We do not have to guess what God expects of us. He has told us , plainly outlining his requirements in the Bible. What God asks of us "is good". He has our best interests at heart. If we love God, we will observe his commandments, "and yet his commandments are not burdensome." (1John 5:3) Heeding his requirements is not only pleasing to him but also beneficial to us. He teaches us to benefit ourselves...if only we would pay attention. (Isaiah 48:17)
"What is God asking back from you?" Does God have the right to ask back anything from us? Of course he does! We owe him obedience as the Source and Sustainer of life. (Psalm 36:9) What, then, does he ask back from us? Micah sums up God's requirements with three phrases. The first two principally involve our dealings with fellow humans, and the third involves our relationship with God.
"Exercise justice." The Hebrew word for "justice," according to one reference work, "involves right and fair relationships in the community." God asks us to treat others according to what is right and fair by his standards. We exercise justice by being impartial, upright, and honest in our dealings with others. When we act justly toward others, they may be moved to act justly toward us in return. "All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them." (Matthew 7:12a)
"To love kindness." God asks us not merely to show kindness but to love it. If we love kindness, we show it willingly; we find pleasure in helping those in need. As a result, we experience the happiness that comes from giving. (Acts 20:35)
"To be modest in walking with our God." In the Bible, the phrase "to walk" means "to follow a certain course of action." We walk with God by following the life course he has outlined in the Bible. We need "to be modest" in pursuing such a course. How so? When we are modest before God, we realistically evaluate our position before him and recognize our limitations. Therefore, "to walk modestly with" means to have a realistic view of what he requires and of what we can give.
Thankfully, God never requires more than we can give. He is pleased with our best efforts to serve him. "Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to God, and not to men" (Colossians 3:23) He understands our limitations. "For he himself well knows the formation of us. Remembering that we are dust." (Psalm 103:14) When we, with due modesty, learn to accept our limitations as well, we can find joy in walking with him. Such a course brings rich blessings from him.