What God requires of a man: Meditation for the fifteenth Sunday after trinity
“He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13).
“…if you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” (Matt. 19:17)
The above are the Bible answers to the question of what God requires of a man. The Bible, including the Old Testament, clearly does not project a mechanical and complicated system of rules, ceremonies, and rituals as the basic requirement for man’s right relationship with God. There are many things today, which men do and assume that they are required by God, as absolutely necessary but, which, in the light of the teaching of the Bible, are not.
God’s requirement is that His people do what is right in relationship with Him and in their relationships with one another.
As they are motivated by love, their actions will be tempered by justice, mercy, and humility. God’s people are not to oppress others, but to do what is just, righteous, and honest toward one another. This is the fear of God and keeping of His commandment, which is the whole duty of man and way to life. This is love, which we are taught, as contained in the Collect for the day, is the fulfilling of the law.
Not to love may not mean to hate, but failure to show love. Some people offend God, not by what they do, but by what they do not do like the case of the rich man and Lazarus. Not standing for justice is abetting injustice and not showing love when needed is being wicked and can deprive one of eternal life (Matt. 25:31-46).
Reflections on the Bible Readings for Day (Mattins)
The story of Naboth’s Vineyard recorded in the OT passage (1Kgs 21) is a good example of man’s injustice and inhumanity to man even perpetuated in the context of religion. Naboth had land near the palace, which he did not want to release to king Ahab for anything because it was his father’s inheritance. So, Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, in order to take the land by force, arranged that Naboth is killed religiously as a lot of exploitation and wickedness are perpetuated today in the church in the name of God. Though she was not a Judaist, she knew the provisions of their law. But instead of using it in its spirit to uphold justice, she manipulated it to perpetuate injustice and wickedness. She made them proclaim a fast, bring an accusation against Naboth and had him stoned. People would not know. Some might even think that she had regard for the Jewish laws. But God knows everything and revealed the same to His prophet. The wicked do not go unpunished, for God detests wickedness. He requires a man to be loving and just.
The NT passage (Matt. 7:1-12) gives some specifics of what God would be happy for us to do or not to do. We should not be judgmental and should have the faith to bring our needs to God. The last verse sums up what God requires of us in our relationship with one another as given directly by the Lord Jesus as the Golden Rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba, FIMC, CMC. is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.