The Rev. Dr. Steve Schave, director of LCMS Urban & Inner City Mission and director of LCMS Church Planting, leads a Service of Sending for the Rev. Martin Schultheis (kneeling) on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, in the chapel of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in St. Louis. Schultheis is a new LCMS national missionary and current senior pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church and School in Catonsville, Md. (LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford)

KFUO Radio — Nov. 19, 2019

Daily Chapel — Rev. Dr. Steve Schave on Micah 6:6-8

What Does the Lord Require?

Micah 6:6-8 (English Standard Version)

“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[a] 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,[b]
    and to walk humbly with your God?

How will we approach God? How do we worship God? We lay ourselves prostate before Him; we bring our tithes and our offerings to God.

But is there anything — anything — we can sacrifice that would atone for our sins that I might come into the presence of God? We confess that we have not loved God with our whole hearts; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.

Is there a sacrifice great enough, then, that I can bring before God in worship that can redeem me from the cost of my sin? Would even the sacrifice of a firstborn child, the very fruit of my body, pay the price?

I know the good that I have not done, and I know the evil that I have done, but now I need to know what the Lord requires of me that I might kneel before Him. 

The good stuff: do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with your God. Oh, well, if it’s about me doing justice that is required, and loving kindness, I think I’ll be all right. I’m as humble as the next guy about it, too.

Try to be a voice for the downtrodden, an advocate for the marginalized, care for the poor and the orphan and the widow and the sojourner — all good justice things to do … with a love for being kind to others.

And yet … our kindness only goes so far, when it is tested, especially by our enemies. Our justice will always tip the scales to what we think is fair, always tilting towards what we think we deserve.

And walking humbly is far too often just a display of our false humility, as we not-so-subtly seek our pat on the back for being such good people. 

Justice, kindness, humility … no, even there I have failed in all three. And what will be the cost? Well, make no mistake when you approach God, it will be empty-handed.

Just how desperate are we? Not all of the bulls’ blood in the world, not all of the oil on earth … nothing that I bring can save me.

A firstborn will need to be given for my transgression, but not the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul, the fruit of Christ’s body alone can pay the price … the firstborn son of God. 

Christ alone does justice, ultimately on the cross: where all of my guilt has been placed upon Him. Christ alone loves kindness, praying for mercy even for those who crucified Him.

Christ alone walks humbly with God … “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

I have no currency; I have no currency for salvation. But the body and blood of Christ, the fruits of the cross, are worth more than all the riches in the world to me.

His justice, His kindness, His humility … emptying Himself out until there was nothing left to give. That, brothers and sisters, is what is required.

Now that is our life in Christ … we have mercy because we have been shown mercy, we love because He first loved us, we have humility because we have seen the sacrifice that was made for our forgiveness, and it humbles us in reverence and in fear.

Today we remember Elizabeth of Hungary, who, when she was widowed, gave all her possessions to start a hospital, out of her own home, and died caring for the sick, from something that was contracted from one of the patients.

This is our life in Christ, emptying ourselves out for others, not to earn any merit, but because we walk humbly with God to follow Jesus in His steps.

And I can’t think of a better modern-day example than the mission to Sandtown, Baltimore that we recognize today. Helping to take young men from a life of crime and gangs, to become gainfully employed and contributing members of society, breaking generational cycles of poverty and trauma and abuse.

A national missionary — dear friend, Martin — who does justice as an advocate and champion, who will love kindness in a world that loves to judge and to marginalize. But today, my dear friend, my brother, I exhort you to walk humbly, to walk humbly with God.

Like Elizabeth of Hungary, I know the dangerous road that lies ahead for you. Because when we take this walk with God it leads to suffering, it leads to a cross as we are called to lay down our lives in service.     

But we go with great courage. We go with great courage because we know that all that was required has already been paid in full by Jesus Christ. So it is that we fix our eyes on the cross, knowing that Christ will walk with us all the way. To the cross, to the tomb, and finally into the garden as the stone is rolled away.

Serve with joy then, my dear brothers and sisters, your faith overflowing to others, as we come before the LORD, and bow ourselves before God on high.

What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? We will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. We will pay our vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people. We will offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and we will call upon the name of the Lord.

Our very lives (are) a sacrifice of thanksgiving in which we do justice, we love kindness, and we walk humbly — pouring ourselves out to serve, just as Christ has given His all for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.