by Bill Hines

Christians are called to please God not self. Yet in our struggle with addiction, we become self-focused and provide excuses as to why we are not walking with God. The people of Micah’s day wanted to know what they could do to overcome their heinous sin committed against God. Not unlike many of us today they tried to devise a way back to God that would really show their commitment. As always God’s way back is profound yet simple.

The people asked:
“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 thousand 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).

The addict often wants a list. If you are reading this and you are convicted that your addiction is wrong, you may be wishing you could have a list of ways to overcome your addiction. When the Israelites were indicted by God concerning their need for reconciliation to Him, they responded with questions of their own through their prophet Micah. How could they make things right? Is there a list of behaviors they can check off? Their attempts at answers became increasingly absurd and show what many addicts exhibit—a mask of interest in change, yet under that mask is a resolute defiance toward godly change.

Watch the absurd progression:

  • Shall they provide a burnt offering? That would be a normal question.
  • Offerings and calves a year old? Not unusual …
  • Shall they offer thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of oil! Now it’s getting absurd …
  • Then comes the most absurd of all. Shall they offer their firstborn child? This is what some of the pagan societies of ancient times did in sacrificing children to the gods.

It reminds me of myself as a child. Upset that I was in trouble I accused my parents of wanting to spank me and that they would enjoy putting me through my punishment. That was not the truth, but it seemed the more absurd I could make the punishment the worse it made my parents look (in my young mind) and it justified my behavior as not that bad.

There is precedence for each of these sacrifices and gifts to God when done as prescribed by the Lord from a humble heart, as even Hannah and Elkanah offered their only child, Samuel, to the Lord’s service (1 Samuel 1:21-28). But for the true Believer at the time of Micah—and for us now—there is a better answer. The answer comes in three-character traits. But these are not the kind of list one can check off and be done with. These are character traits in which we grow with ever-increasing measure every day of our lives. It is because we are free in Christ that we can walk in humble repentance according to these three-character traits of the “Micah Mandate.”

1. To do justice means to fulfill mutual obligations in a manner consistent with God’s moral law. It is making right decisions according to God’s moral laws.

God is a just God. His standard is the standard for Himself and for those who follow Him. If His people desire to put off their old ways of living in favor of the new ways in Christ, then they will walk in His just ways. The addict will live by His Word, which is His moral law found in the Bible. As we said before, this is not in order to be saved from sin. We obey because we are saved, and He is our God. Doing justice helps the addict focus on the things that are truly important to God because the heart becomes increasingly set on His law, fulfilled in His way and in His time. The addict must learn patient dedication and commitment to His ways which are just.

2. To love kindness means to have a readiness to do good to people, even when it may be undeserved.

God’s kindness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4) and it was in kindness and love that He came to save us (Titus 3:4-5). He asks His people to love kindness as He does. This means having a willingness of heart to act in kindness toward those who may not deserve it, as we did not deserve His kindness when He gave Himself for us. Of course, this kindness extends toward our families and friends and all those of the faith. It is one of the character qualities with which all Christians are to adorn themselves (Colossians 3:12-17). Christian kindness will help the addict love others with their time and energies without indulging in private projects that only satisfy self.

3. To walk humbly with your God means to have a right understanding of self before God. This status is based on His majesty as the high and exalted Creator and man’s status as the creature who is dependent on the Creator for all that pertains to life and living. It is not a matter of having high self-esteem or a positive outlook it is thinking of self realistically. As Paul puts it in Romans 12:3 a person is, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment…. The sober thinker always recognizes that the life he lives before God is completely based on gratitude for all that He has done and continues to do for those who bow before Him.

So, what can the addict learn from Micah? It is that God wants to grow us, by doing the simple things God calls us to do each day. To quit making excuses and devising reasons we cannot attain the good He wants of us. The addict must stop making up lies about what God wants and simply walk in newness of life and in the truth that, … if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV). If you are an addict you must simply, under the power of the Holy Spirit, do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God . God the Father, your loving Father if you belong to Him wants you to grow up to be like Him.

Covenant Ministries, Inc.

Bill Hines is the president of Covenant Ministries, a biblical counseling, education and Christian discipleship ministry in Ft. Worth, Texas. He is the author of Leaving Yesterday Behind and Curing the Heart: A Model for Biblical Counseling (with Dr. Howard Eyrich). He co-authored The Pursuit of Perfection with Dr. Mark Shaw. He edited Paul the Counselor: Counseling and Disciple-making Modeled by the Apostle Paul and is a contributing author of three of the chapters.

Covenant Ministries, Inc.
P.O. Box 121235
Fort Worth, TX 76121-1235
[email protected]

Follow Bill on:   Facebook    Twitter    LinkedIn