- “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 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 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?
Verse 8 here is well known, and for good reason. It presents a simple way to live for God: 1) do justice, 2) love kindness, and 3) walk humbly. The context of this verse, however, is telling. The prophet was asking what he could do to please God, and in the midst of wondering aloud about this he even offered that he might give his own firstborn for “my transgression… for the sin of my soul.” Wow! It’s powerful to consider that even if we were to give our own children to die for our sins, it would not be enough. It would also be horribly, horribly wrong. Instead, God gave His Firstborn, His Son! Doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly are responses only. They do not earn us favor with God; they are evidences of the favor and salvation of God. Thousands of rams (sacrificial animals) and rivers of oil likewise would never be enough. Only one sacrifice is enough and that is Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, the one He was sent and born to offer in obedience to His Father out of His Father’s love for… you!
In view of this, some of the effort and angst many of us put ourselves through every day seems inappropriate and maybe even sinful. Are you beating yourself up? Are you trying somehow to pay for your sin, to make up for your shortfall, and to “do more, try harder?” It will never be enough. Never. If you by faith have Jesus Christ, however, you already and always have enough to bring to God. He is pleased with His Son. Always. If and as we are in His Son, we experience the fullness of His pleasure now and forever. This leads us to live just, kind, humble lives that honor Him.