At the end of last year I discovered Alexander Maclaren, a Scottish minister who pastored in England. He lived from 1826-1910 but what he had to say is still so relevant today. His practical yet insightful way of putting things reminds me of a pastor friend of mine in St. Augustine, Eric Watkins. I think if they had been contemporaries they would have been great friends.
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8
“Micah…wages war against that misconception of sacrifice, but does not thereby protest against its use. One has heard people say, ‘We are plain men; we do not understand your theological subtleties; we do not quite see what you mean by “Repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. To do justly and to love mercy , and to walk humbly with my God, that is my religion, and I leave all the rest to you.’ “
I am afraid that I am guilty, if not of voicing this, of thinking along these lines. I often want to hide behind the simple when the complex is too hard for me.
” ‘To do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God’ is possible only through repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘To do justly’, that is elementary morality in two words. There must be mercy as well as the justice.”
The minimum according to Maclaren:
- “…give everybody what he has a right to, including mercy to which he has a right,
- to have a lowly estimate of myself
- to live continually grasping the hand of God
- to be conscious of His overshadowing wing at all times
- conformity to His will at every step of the road…”
“To think of God’s requirements, and of my own failure, is the sure way to paralyze all activity…” . This is often the take-away after Sunday morning sermons where I’m told what I should be doing and left feeling there is no way I am living up to the standards given.
“The gift of God is Jesus Christ and that gift meets all our failures.”
“His last word to us is not ‘Thou shalt do’ but ‘I will give’ We have not to begin with effort; we have to begin with faith.”
All words in quotations are Maclaren’s.