It’s real easy to fall into the trap of legalism. The most common way I’ve seen it is when we get busy at church. We’re doing this, working on that, helping over here, and serving over there. And somewhere along the way, in all that busyness we forget about our first love, Jesus. As Christians and faithful church members we don’t even see it coming. There’s a need or an opportunity to help and we’re there. And we’re working and we’re working and we’re telling ourselves, “God will be satisfied because I’m serving Him.” And maybe we start out that way. But sooner turns to later and we stop serving God and we start serving ourselves. When we participate, we get compliments. We develop relationships with the folks who are always there doing the same things we’re doing. So we come for the kudos, the companionship, the friendship, the desire to be included. And as we start to slide along that path, Jesus becomes an afterthought.
With what shall I come to the LORD
And bow myself before the God on high?
Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings,With yearling calves?Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams,
In ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
– Micah 6:6-7, NASB
Sooner or later the Holy Spirit begins to prick our conscience. And if we’re caught in that trap of legalism, we’ll defend ourselves by saying, “Look at all the things I’m doing for God!” Only that’s not the real truth, is it? We may feel flustered and frustrated, not understanding why we’re feeling that conviction from God. We may even ask a question similar to what Micah was asking. However, when Micah asked it, he asked it knowing the answer. That’s why he went overboard with his response: thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of oil. He even make a remark about presenting his own firstborn as an offering for his own sin. Micah said all of these things to reveal that the way folks think about bringing an offering to God is often warped and skewed. And in the Church today we’ve fallen into a similar trap. We think the more we do, the more pleased with us God will be. But that’s not the case at all. It’s always been about the why not the what. Why are we doing what we’re doing?
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
– Micah 6:8, NASB
Put the “offerings” aside for a moment. What is our attitude? What is our heart? Here, Micah’s answer is simple. God requires of us to do justice. He wants us to love kindness (not just kindness towards us). And He wants us to walk humbly with Him. If we’re walking humbly with God, we’ll do justice and we’ll love kindness. So basically the command is to walk humbly with our Lord. That’s the real offering He wants. And it raises questions about everything else we’re doing. Why are we serving in ministry A and assisting ministry B? Are we doing so as part of our humble walk with God? Are these areas where God wants us? Are we serving to glorify Him? As we carry out our roles, are we doing so because we love God first and foremost?
I’m not saying serving is bad. I’m not even saying serving in several places is wrong. It’s not about that. It never was. It is about whether or not God wants in serving in those areas. And it’s about what’s in our hearts as we serve. If either of these are true, we’re wrong to serve: God doesn’t want us there or we’re not doing it solely for the love of Christ. What God wants most from us is the relationship. He wants us to walk with Him. The service comes out of that. The monetary offerings we bring come out of that. Everything comes out of that. It begins with the walk. It is sustained by the walk. And it is finished by the walk. Our walk with our Savior must be first and foremost. That’s what God wants from us.