Read: Micah 6:1-8
Memory Verse: Micah 6:8
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; And what doth the Lord require of thee, But to do justly, and to love mercy, And to walk humbly with thy God?”
A soldier that doesn’t love his country will not do very well in the army. A soldier who only follows orders because he has no choice but to will find himself constantly frustrated and eager for his contract to end so he can separate from the military. We have all known service members like this and what is clear about them is that they do not have the heart of a soldier. For whatever reason they chose to join, it wasn’t for love of country and a desire to defend freedom—at least it wasn’t anymore.
What often happens with these types of people is they begin going through the motions. They put on the uniform, keep their hair cut, and salute the officers, but that really is the extent of their dedication. They fulfill their duty and nothing more. They no longer serve because they believe in their role in the United States Armed Forces. They serve because they signed a contract and are obligated to fulfill it.
In our passage, we find God pointing out a similar problem in the nation of Israel. While they were absolutely continuing the ceremonious sacrifices that were commanded of them, God no longer had their hearts. Instead, the people had grown “weary” (v 3) in their relationship with God. They no longer saw His righteousness and blessings (v 5) and instead saw Him simply as a deity to be appeased with their most basic obedience.
God finally states that He has no interest in sacrifices comprised of a thousand rams, rivers of oil, or even their firstborn (v 7). Instead, He articulates His desire for their hearts.
This isn’t something new. In verse 8, God states through the prophet Micah that this is a concept He’s already given to the nation of Israel long ago and it’s simple. His desire is that the people of Israel do justly and love mercy—in other words have qualities of their hearts and character that go beyond simply offering the right sacrifices at the right time. These two characteristics mimic God’s by always following justice (strict equity or fair judgment) with mercy (an insatiable desire to do good to others).
These characteristics God desires in His people are rounded out by the final—to walk humbly with God. The idea here is to have a heart that both passively and actively pursues God in obedience. It’s the heart of a soldier that we talked about earlier. This is the complete opposite of a person who simply fulfills their most basic obligation but instead finds every way to pursue their role to the fullest because that is fundamentally who they are now.
Meditation of the Day: Why do we tend to fall into the trap of simply fulfilling a perceived obligation to God rather than having “the heart of a soldier” with Him?
Assignment: Make it a point that when you feel the need to “check a box” to fulfill a perceived obligation as a Christian, instead meditate on what your relationship with God really is and could be. Think about His love for you and desire to know you.
For Fun: Soldiers have creeds that encapsulate what the “heart of a soldier” is. Write your own creed that demonstrates your heart for God (or at least what God desires your heart be based on our passage).