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Walk Humbly

(We are sorry but there is no video of this sermon. Pastor Phil forgot to recharge the computer battery. He will be double checking this next Sunday!)

The Lord speaks through the prophet Micah saying that he requires three things in the lives of his people:

Act justly.

Love mercy. (And we learned last week that the biblical word for this is “hesed” which is a strong, compassionate, loyal love.)

Walk humbly with your God

As we think about this last thing, let’s break it down in three parts:

First the word “walk.”

Walking with God is used throughout the Bible as a way of speaking about our life with God. It refers to how we live for and with God. Even today we might ask, “How is your walk with God going?” and we mean “how is your relationship with God?”

Our walk with God has to do with how we are praying, serving, loving, and being faithful.

When God Almighty appeared to Abram to make an eternal covenant with him, he said to him “walk before me, and be blameless.”[1]

In words very similar to what we hear in Micah, Moses asked Israel, “So now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways…”[2]

Joshua charged the tribes of Israel to “love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways…”[3]

The kings of Israel are measured by whether or not they walked in the ways of the Lord.

Solomon was told by the Lord to walk in the Lord’s ways, keeping his statues and commandments.[4]

Proverbs 2:7 says the Lord is a shield to those who walk blamelessly.

Psalm 15 says that the ones who are allowed into God’s holy place are those who walk blamelessly.

Earlier in the book of Micah it says that people walk each in the name of their own god, but that we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.

Walking with God means to live with God and to know God.

To walk with the Lord is to do what God wants. It is to love him with our hearts.

The Hebrew word for walking – halacha – is the word used in the Jewish faith for ethics. How a person lives, the decisions they make, the morals they choose describes how that person walks day by day.

Jesus didn’t use the word, but certainly implied the idea when he invited people to follow him. When Jesus invited people to follow him it meant people had to get up and start going with him. They had to walk with him. If we want to follow Jesus we have to walk with him.

John was one of those who answered Jesus’ call. He became a disciple and apostle. In his letter called 1 John, he writes, “whoever says, ‘I abide in him,’ ought to walk in the same way as he walked.”[5] (This is the way the New Revised Standard Version read and why I wanted this to be read from this version this morning.)

That is the standard of the Christian life - walking as Jesus walked. Living as he lived. Following in his footsteps.

There is a tremendous amount of talk in Christianity today. There are warehouses of books that talk about Christianity. Speakers and preachers talk about Christ. Christian programs, podcasts, and web sites spewing out words about Christianity.

We’ve got the talk. But how is our walk?

Mark Labberton shares a story of when he was the pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, California. The story is of a young man who was really searching in life.

He had been to First Pres Berkeley a few times. He admitted to being skeptical and having something of an anti-Christian bias. The young man had gone back to graduate school to find out who he was in this search for meaning and purpose.

The young man told the pastor that churches he had visited that were in line with his politics weren’t connecting with him. This man wanted to know if there really is a God. He wanted to know if God came in human flesh in the person of Jesus. He wanted to know what difference it would make to follow Jesus.

The man said, “I think if I got clearer on some of that, I would know why my life matters and how I am supposed to live.” And this searching skeptic said, “I can find lots of people in this town that are like me. What I need instead is to find some people that are like Jesus. Is your church that kind of place?”[6]

What a great question. Is our church or any church a place where people are like Jesus? Do we walk as Jesus walked?

The second word speaks of how we are to walk. We are to walk humbly. This is knowing our place before God.

This is not the ordinary word used throughout the Bible for being humble. And it really isn’t talking about our personal humility. It isn’t “look in a mirror and see if you are humble”. No, this means lose yourself and look at God.

The word has the sense of “modesty” and ”prudence”. Micah is saying, “Walk modestly, circumspectly, carefully with your God.” Don’t just live any old way you want to. There is a carefulness and a vigilance that needs to guide our walk with God. Let’s be aware of who it is we walk before.

I am afraid we have somewhat lost the sense of who God is. We have dumbed-down the Almighty in our attempts to be casual, informal and relevant.

We approach him casually because we have made him so small. If you have a small God you trust small. When you have a small God you give small. When you have a small God you pray small. When you have a small God you live small.

If God is just a dude to hang out with, just a cool friend who is with us everywhere as our personal chauffeur to carry us through life, someone who we can just come to any old way we want, then is he any different than say your hunting buddies or coffee friend? Why worship him?

But our God is big. He is more than you and I can ever understand. He is personal but also powerful.

When you go to Zion National Park it is awe-inspiring to see its massive structures, sheer cliffs that fall off hundreds of feet, and majestic geologic formations. You stand in the valley and peer up at the immensity that surrounds you.

When you walk and hike up some of those mountains and along the rims and cliffs you do so circumspectly and carefully. You respect the terrain and the steepness.

Perhaps the most iconic hike in Zion Park is the hike to Angel’s Landing which is a hike along a narrow ridge, with sheer drops offs on either side that fall several hundred feet. Chains are connected to posts for people to hold onto all along the hike for safety and steadiness. And you need it.

You just don’t run or skip or walk on Angel’s Landing any old way you want to. You watch your step. You have to walk with the mountain and with the terrain. There is a certain way you have to walk. Get cocky and you could fall off and you aren’t coming back to tell anyone about it.

It is to be enjoyed but you respect its enormity and what could happen should you be foolish or seriously get out of step.

God is steep. He is big. He is massive. Zion National Park fits on the tip of his finger. To walk with him requires our prudence. We take into account who God is. We are to walk humbly.

When I read what the Bible says about him and when I contemplate who this God is, it inspires me to walk humbly before him.

If he is the high and holy Lord of all the universe, the sea, the stars, and the galaxies, if he is the God who requires justice and mercy,

…then we should walk before him with the awe, the reverence, the respect, the humbleness that is due him.

The Message puts this phrase in Micah 6:8 like this, “Don’t take yourself too seriously, but take God seriously.”

When I was in college, and just beginning to think I might become a pastor someday I got into a conversation with a pastor who had been doing this for a long time. I began to pick his brain about ministry and serving the Lord.

Have you ever had someone tell you something or give a piece of advice that has stayed with you all your life? You never forget it and it becomes part of all your thinking? This was one of those.

We were driving in a car, and talking about being a pastor and he said he had learned this: “Don’t take yourself too seriously, but take the cross of Christ very seriously.”

I have never forgotten that and have come back to it time and time again.

Take Jesus’ cross, death, sacrifice, humility and dependence on the Father seriously.

When I take myself less seriously, I get less upset and impatient with myself when I stumble. Failure doesn’t doom me. Mistakes don’t crush me. When I do things well I don’t become proud. As I walk on I don’t always walk well, but I walk with God, and that is all that matters.

Psalm 37 tells us that if someone walking with God stumbles, we won’t be down for long, because the Lord has us by the hand.[7] When we walk humbly with our God we are always being upheld. Like a child learning to walk by walking hand and hand with her father, even though she trips up, she won’t fall for long.

And that is how the Lord wants us to walk with him.

Walk humbly, and then the last phrase is “with your God.” Note it says “your God.” Is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ your God?

It is one thing to hear about God. It is one thing to read about God. It is another thing altogether to know and experience him. He can’t be kept out there as an idea or distant belief. He needs to be brought into here. To say he is “our God” is to buy in. We enter this relationship with our feet. A person who knows God doesn’t just believe in God, but believes God.

To walk humbly with our God is to know him.

How can I know the God of this huge universe? Surely he is too big for me! He has come in the person of Jesus Christ. We know God through Christ, who was God in a human body come to us. And Jesus spoke about what it meant to know God and to love and be loved by the Father and the Son. He wants you and I to know him. He will come into our lives if we invite him.

It is the first-hand, present, intimate, personal experience of the living God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that sets us to walking humbly with him.

Here is a passage in the book of Jeremiah:

Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love (hesed), justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.[8]

We understand and know the Lord when we understand and know what he is about. And he is about love, justice and what is right. Micah 6:8 tells us the Lord is about acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly before him.

Our relationship with God is personal, but it is not private. It shows publicly. Because acting justly, loving mercy, and doing what God requires shows in how we live. It shows in our walk.

Think of the act of walking. We use our feet. We place one foot in front of the other. Our feet are on the ground. We walk from the bottom up. We move forward. We may be fast. We may be slow, but we are moving. We are moving in a direction.

So in our Christian walk. We put one foot in front of the other. We are grounded in God’s love. We move forward in faith. We go as God’s Spirit leads us. We go in the direction of God’s will.

When we walk we get to the point where we don’t have to think about it too much. It becomes natural. When you walked into this place you weren’t concentrating on every step, and how your feet were landing, and making sure your legs were moving. You just walked. We want our walk with God to become something natural. That acting justly, loving mercy, loving and serving others, living by grace just come naturally.

Everyone is walking a road. As you walk your road are you walking with God?

The Lord through Micah asks, “walk this journey with me.” He wants us to walk with him. Through the heat and through the cold. Through the mountains and through the valleys. Through the dry places and the places full of water. Through the good times and the hard times. Through our times of ease and times of challenge.

One foot in front of the other. One step at a time. Our hand in his.

Micah asks, what does the Lord want of me?

Three things. Just three things: Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with your God.

Prayer: God, thank you for telling us who you are and what you require of us. We ask for the grace to live in your ways. And teach us to walk. Help us to walk. Guide our walk so that all our steps are done before you. Amen.

[1] Genesis 17:1 [2] Deut. 10:12 [3] Joshua 22:5 [4] 1 Kings 3:14 [5] Even more accurate and strong, and my preference, is the New Revised Standard Version, “must walk as Jesus walked.” [6] The Dangerous Act of Worship, p.52 [7] Psalm 37:23,24 The Message [8] Jeremiah 9:23-24

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