What does God really want from me? Have you ever asked yourself that question? I have on many occasions. My thoughts typically take me straight to things such as my talents, my money, my service, and my willingness to sacrifice. I'm quite sure that most people have mental inclinations, inclinations that they believe to be spiritual, that lead them to assume God simply wants us to perform acts of service and give more of our time and money to the church. Let's take a look at a passage of scripture that may reveal something quite different, maybe even something a little unusual for some...
"With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" — Micah 6:6-8 (ESV)
It's easy for us to become misled in the area of God's desire for His children. As Christians, we're inundated with a plethora of urgent needs that surround us. There's poverty, hunger, child abuse, joblessness, sickness, and there's certainly people around us who have not surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. All of these issues need to be addressed, and there are definitive commands in God's Word for us to carry the Gospel to these very people and even to help meet their physical needs. But where do we even begin? Are we to sacrifice money over and above our tithe? Are we to volunteer at food kitchens? Are we to travel to impoverished areas and feed the poor and minister to the sick? The answer is yes. However, there is something even more important than these very noble acts of sacrifice and service. There's something that God speaks of through the verse above...and it's well worth our attention.
Again, it's easy for us to become misled in the area of God's desire for His children. We are misled because we may simply be misinformed, but we also may not be adept at the prioritization of the 'Godliness' in our life and God's commands. Before we spend thousands of dollars on an overseas mission trip to a developing nation, or before we cash in our 401K and give it to the needy, let's examine God's desire for us as it is played out in the book of Micah. And, let's start with His last command first, a command to 'walk humbly with your God.'
God's primary concern for our life is that it be spent walking with Him in a solid, dynamic and growing relationship. We can give of our wealth to great causes and help many people in the process. We can donate thousands of dollars to our church or toil and labor on mission fields until our passport pages are stamped full...a history of international ink that shows our passion for Jesus? Well, maybe not...
If our relationship with God is not directing us when and how to serve, then we may only be 'serving.' The brass plaques that adorn the walls of churches, plaques beautifully inscribed with the names of people who contributed to this and that, do not necessarily earn these wonderful and generous individuals a crown in God's Heaven. Jesus will not be perusing church plaques, nor will He look to the pages of our passports, at the Bema Seat to confirm our passion for Him. He won't check out our tithing record or our Sunday School lifetime achievement award. No, Christ looks directly through all of our activity, and His gaze will be firmly focused on our heart...a tragedy for many who have invested so much for so long for all the wrong reasons.
God isn't focused on our wealth, our talents, or our desire 'to travel' to the hard places to do good works. What God is interested in is our hearts. He is passionately interested in a relationship with us that extends beyond the processes of organized religion, church schedules, devotion books, and summer mission trips. God is after something in us that is real. God wants the burning passion that we only carry in the deep recesses of our heart. We all have it. We keep it stored away for the scarce few things that we purposely and passionately chose to invest in with our life. It's this passion that He desires. He wants to ignite that passion in us by revealing Himself to us through Scripture and daily conversation with Him in prayer. He wants to ignite that passion through a relationship with Him that is not confined to the often nominal routine of Sunday activities. He wants to ignite a passion in us for a relationship with Himself.
Our real walk and relationship with God is pursued and grown on an intimate level. From that foundation, and from that foundation alone, real service for God is catalyzed, because it is in that relationship that we are directed to serve. God wants us to humbly walk with Him.
God also desires for us to 'do justice' or to walk 'justly.' The Greek word for justice here is derived from the word " shaphat" which simply means 'to judge or govern.' It is God's desire that we allow Him the governance of our life, our actions, and our deeds. We should certainly seek to do good things, but we must understand that, if we really seek Him in a relevant walk/relationship, God will lead us to those good things. He will govern our desires. He will make the judgments of where and when and how we are to spend our time and our resources.
The Psalmist writes of this...
"Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long." — Psalm 25:4-5 (ESV)
David sought the governance of God in his life. His life was a reflection of many failures where God's governance is concerned, but they were not God's failures; they were definitively failures of David himself. However, David's plea for God to 'make me know Your ways,' 'teach me Your paths,' and 'lead me in Your truth,' are cries for God's teaching and direction...cries for God's righteous and perfect governance in his life. They are cries of a sinful heart to be led by a sinless God. Again, this leadership and direction can only be found in a close walk with Almighty God through the Lordship of Christ. God wants us to let Him lead.
And finally, God desires that we have a passionate love for kindness. The Greek word for kindness here is taken from the word 'chacad.' It means 'merciful.' God desires that we have a definitive love for mercy. Mercy is not my strongest attribute; however, if I am to be Jesus to the world around me, then I better dig down deep and find some affection for mercy. Christ's absorption of my sins on the cross brought about the greatest act of mercy and pardon in history. His act of love towards my painfully sinful self should shine through me like the sun. Consequently, it doesn't always shine so bright, but it should.
One of the Beatitudes from Christ's Sermon on the Mount firmly puts my lack of mercy in it's place...
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." — Matthew 5:7 (ESV)
Mercy was key to the life of Christ. The apex of His ministry here on earth was the unveiling of a mercy and grace that I will never fully comprehend. It was on the cross of Christ where justice met grace and mercy, and where the debt of my life was completely redeemed. And, it is that cross, and that sacrifice, that should compel us to show the mercy that we have already been shown in the completed work of Jesus Christ, the innocent, the slain, and the resurrected Lamb of God. God wants us to love mercy.
What does God really want? He wants a relevant relationship with us, a relationship that develops a passion for Him within our heart. True service will stem from that relationship. It will be true service for God, because it will be directed by God. Sacrifice will stem from that relationship, because He will lead the dispersement our time, our talents/gifts and our treasure. Godly mercy and kindness will flow into our life and attitudes as a result of our walk with God, a walk governed by His will and His direction. God doesn't want your money; God simply wants our heart.
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!