Today we are celebrating GEMS Sunday, a time to rejoice in our girls’ ministry! We will be focusing on Micah 6:6-8 Act, Love, Walk. We will take a close look at their theme verse, Micah 6:8. There are a lot of questions in these verses. What does the Lord expect from us: does he want our stuff, does he want our very favorite things for himself, does he want us to give him some of our stuff, or maybe even all of it? The Lord tells his people that what he really wants is for us to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. We will explore what that looks like.
Act, Love, Walk
Today we’re celebrating GEMS Sunday, a time to praise God for our girls’ ministry and his faithfulness shown through how the Holy Spirit is blessing the girls, the counselors, and our church family through the GEMS. This year we’re focusing on the GEMS’ theme verse from Micah, a verse that shapes the ministry, giving them a foundation to build your faith and life with Jesus on, “He has shown you, O mortal, 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.” This is an amazing way to live!
GEMS, what do your parents expect from you? How do they want you to live?
Most of the time your parents are clear on what they want you to do, but even more important is knowing what kind of a girl they want you to grow up to be. Your parents all want you to grow up to become young women who love Jesus and follow him and the way he calls us all to live.
In the Bible verse we read this morning, the prophet Micah was talking to the people of Israel. Micah lived about 700 years before Jesus came and it’s a time when the Assyrian people were starting to attack Israel. God was allowing these attacks because he isn’t very happy with his people, they’ve forgotten the way that God has called them to live. They had become greedy, proud, and didn’t help each other out, instead they had become selfish. So, Micah asks them what they think, “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?” Micah’s wondering if God wants the very best things that they have, things like burnt offerings a priest would make asking for forgiveness, or their best and most expensive calves. The calves cost a lot because they will grow up and make more calves. They ask this because they’re thinking that maybe if they give God their very best and most expensive things, that God will give them something special back. That’s how they were thinking, just like the people who follow other gods.
What is your most special thing that you have, do you think Jesus is asking you to give it to him?
Then Micah asks, “Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?” That’s a lot of stuff to give to the Lord! Maybe if they give the Lord a ton of stuff, God will give them even more back! It’s a really selfish way of thinking, it’s all about greed and wanting even more.
How much of your stuff do you think Jesus wants of yours?
Finally, Micah asks a really hard question, “Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” Can you believe that they’re even wondering this, though they may be thinking of Samuel who was given into the care of the priest Eli when he was still a young boy to be raised in the temple, but probably they’re thinking about offering their child as a sacrifice, a horrible thing! The prophet Jeremiah talks about how God gets so angry at this, Jeremiah 32:35, “They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molek, though I never commanded—nor did it enter my mind—that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.” Life is a precious gift from the Lord and should be treasured, which is why Jesus died on the cross, dying there to wash us from our sin so we can have eternal life with him. This helps us to understand the GEMS verse, because it’s about how precious life is.
You want to know what kind of people Jesus wants us to be, it’s in your verse, “He has shown you, O mortal, 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.” God doesn’t really want your stuff, he doesn’t need it, and he especially doesn’t want you to think you have to give it to him. The Reverend Helen White writes, “If you look at Micah closely or all of biblical faith, it is the other way around. First God gives us something and then we respond with our thanksgiving and our worship – our obedience.” Jesus comes to show us what kind of people he wants us to be, and it looks like acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.
What do you think acting justly look like?
I love how Amos says it looks like, Amos 5:24, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Justice flows out of heaven and we live in it. When you look at what Jesus teaches about justice, part of justice is that when you sin, there are consequences, especially if you hurt someone else. It’s like if you do something wrong, your parents will punish you because they want you to grow up knowing right from wrong, knowing that Jesus expects us to live a certain way that is best for us. But justice also looks like being fair to others, making sure that people are treated well and properly. We are all created in the image of God and so everyone is precious and should be treated with respect. Acting justly is also about making sure that people who are going through hard times, like widows and orphans are given the help that they need. God gives us enough to make sure that people don’t need to go hungry or be rejected. It also means we don’t take advantage of people, instead we’re called to love our neighbour.
What do you think loving mercy looks like?
When you read the stories of Jesus’ life through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we see that Jesus was filled with mercy and showed mercy in how he treated people and in his parables. Jesus cared about people that most regular people didn’t really care about or even notice; the poor, sick, and unloved. Mercy points to having compassion that decides to not punish someone even when justice demands it. I think about the woman that the people wanted to stone because she was caught in adultery and Jesus knelt down in the dirt because her and protected her from their anger and then told her he wasn’t going to judge her, but that she can go, but to go and sin no more. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus tells the story of a man who is beaten and robbed and how a Samaritan, people that Jews hated, came by and had mercy on him, taking him to a hotel and paying for his room and medicine to help him get better. Jesus shows us mercy by forgiving us our sin even though he doesn’t have to.
What do you think walking humbly with God looks like?
Walking humbly with God means that God is the most important person in your life, that you’re always asking yourself first, “What does God expect from me,” and “What kind of a person does Jesus want me to be?” Walking humbly with God means that we listen to Jesus and what he says and then obey Jesus in everything, trusting that he knows what’s best for us.
The band Casting Crowns have a song called “Friend of Sinners” and it gets at the heart of what we’ve been talking about, “Oh Jesus friend of sinners, Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers. Let our hearts be led by mercy. Help us reach with open hearts and open doors. Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours. You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast, For the leper and the lame; they’re the reason that you came. Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast, But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at your feet‘cause you are good, you are good and your love endures forever.”
Jesus calls us to become people who reflect his love and grace to others.