Do you have anyone that's hard to buy for at Christmas time? Someone who either has everything, or their wants are so technical or detailed that you dare not shop for them? Or worse yet, someone who says "I don't need anything" when you ask them for gift suggestions. Yeah, like that's going to go over big on Christmas morning when everyone else is unwrapping presents!
In my devotions this past week I came across a short list of things that God wants. It started me thinking about the celebration of Jesus' birth, and what I needed to get Him for His birthday. I hope you'll bear with me as I share some of the things I learned.
Micah 6:6-8 says,
Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or 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 hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD required of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
The author is frantically scrambling for a gift fit for the Lord God of Heaven. He starts out with what everyone is supposed to give: burnt offerings. Pure, specifically chosen calves to offer to the Lord. Then he progresses to extravagant gifts: thousands of rams; ten thousand rivers of oil. Gifts that would truly be a sacrifice to give. Things that really cost the writer something. Or almost everything. Then he even goes on to suggest the most extreme gift of all. Would it take the gift of his firstborn in order to satisfy the Lord? "The fruit of his body for the sin of his soul?" As huge as that is, somehow it seems fitting when you consider that He gave His only begotten Son for us.
But then in verse 8, we have the answer of the Lord. He wants no extravagant gift. Nothing that attempts to match His own unmatchless generosity. He wants only three things. He wants us to do justly. Just do right. Make the right choices. This could be a huge as following His call to the mission field, or as small as having the humility and unselfishness to offer to work in the nursery on the night of the Christmas cantata. Just do right.
Then He tells us to love mercy. My dictionary defines mercy as "more kindness than justice deserves". We can do right, but that doesn't mean we do it with kindness. Sometimes it's hard to be gracious and kind when people really don't deserve it. But then again, doesn't Jesus set the ultimate example for that as well? If He can show more kindness than justice deserves on such a grand scale, can't we do it in our every day lives? But He doesn't just say to do it. He says to love it. Love is a pretty strong emotion for something we give so grudgingly, if at all.
Finally God tells us to walk humbly with him. In addition to meekness, the dictionary defines humbleness as showing consideration or respect. Quite often we show respect to someone by letting them go first. Do we show God the respect He deserves by putting Him first? Do we put Him first in our time or our money? Or do we put Him first in giving Him ourselves? I'm afraid so often we just give Him the leftovers.
Notice that He prefaces His list with the observation that He has shown us that which is good. He's given the example. Often when I'm telling my husband what I want for Christmas, I mark pages in catalogs, or write down specfically in what store and what aisle and what section the item I want can be found. God has given us a clear example to follow in what He expects of us. We don't have to attempt these things on our own. To do so would be foolhardy. As we "walk humbly with the Lord", He shows us how to live in such a way that we will please Him.
As you go about your Christmas shopping this season, don't forget to follow God's shopping list. Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. A short list, but an important one. Give Him what He wants for Christmas.