Yesterday, I explored how no one is “good” except God. Even though we fall short of perfection God wants us to do good things. The question that leaves is what does God consider to be goodness? I find it interesting that as I write this, Duchess Sarah Ferguson is plastered all over the news because she was trying to sell connections to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew. She was hailed for having an American comeback after a media-filled divorce from Prince Andrew. She came to the USA and wrote a book and became the spokesperson for Weight Watchers. The American audience enjoyed having her here and she flourished and made a lot of money. She donated a lot of money to charity, but being used to her royal lifestyle, she also spent more than what she made and is now out of money again. It is unknown at this point why she chose to sell her connections to the royal throne, but her need to pay some debts quickly may be what motivated her. Because she is such a prominent figure, even though what she did was not illegal (although it could be considered unethical) her good things are currently overshadowed by this scandal. In fact, the day the story broke out; she was receiving an award for her charitable efforts. This is an extreme example, yet very real, of how we can do good things but we are not “good.”
Please turn to Micah 6:8 and see what is good. There are three main things that God wants to see from us in order to express goodness; they are: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. I don’t think this is an either/or statement. We need to do all three. It is not good to show mercy but not behave appropriately. Likewise, if we become proud in what we are doing, we are no longer walking humbly with God. God gave us a definition of what is good in this verse, and I am challenged by the words in this verse because it is not always easy to act justly and love mercy and to walk humbly.
The New Living Translation translated the phrase, “to act justly” as “to do what is right.” Years ago, the book, In His Steps was written and the characters in the book were challenged to ask the question “What would Jesus do?” before they acted. There was a resurgence of interest in that phrase in the 1990’s (thanks to music groups such as Big Tent Revival) and if you stepped into a Christian book store you would find bookmarks, bracelets and other paraphernalia that asked that very question. It is a good question to ask as long as you live by it. Our hearts need to be ruled with the question, is this the way God would want me to behave?
I have always been interested in the phrase “to love mercy,” because it isn’t saying just to show mercy. What I feel that means is that we are not just to show outward acts of mercy because it is the right thing to do; however, mercy should be something we love to do. Mercy is the result of God changing our hearts to love every person around us and to want them to know Him. Mercy is extending forgiveness to those who have hurt you. Mercy is helping someone when they are helpless. Mercy is living as Christ’s ambassador (2 Cor. 5:20).
I find it interesting that after naming acting justly and loving mercy the next phrase is “to walk humbly with your God.” Sometimes I wonder if it was placed last because it would be easy to get a big head when we are doing the first two. We can feel pretty good about ourselves when we are doing good things. The danger in that is we could find ourselves on a slippery slope when we forget who we are because of Christ.
God has shown us what is good! Are you living a life that demonstrates goodness?