Loving others is easier said than done. But loving our neighbors as ourselves is one of God’s central commands (Lev. 19:17–18). While loving others can be challenging, it’s crucial to our relationship with God. Micah addresses this problem in today’s passage.
Having just promised Israel a beautiful, hopeful future, the Lord turns His attention back to Israel’s leaders. He rebukes them for their oppressive treatment of His people, demonstrating that our relationship with God has a direct impact on our relationships with others. We can’t separate one from the other In fact, our treatment of other humans made in God’s image is a direct reflection of our relationship with God. No matter how strong our theology is, our actions toward others tell the truth about what we believe about God and where we stand in our relationship with Him. Israel’s leaders failed in that respect.
This passage provides hope in two areas. First, Micah’s rebuke comforts people who have experienced the evil he describes here. Perhaps you feel cannibalized by people who should have loved and protected you. You can take comfort that God sees and that He will hold the guilty accountable. Second, the Lord’s rebuke gives us a helpful diagnostic tool for our relationship with Him. In the New Testament, we see a clear discussion of this topic: “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20). If we do not show love to others, it’s a sure sign that we do not love God. Rejoice, though, for recognizing our sinful behavior is the first step toward repentance and a restoration of our relationship with God (and others!).
>> Today’s devotional may challenge or comfort you. Consider what your relationships with others reveal about your relationship with God.
God, remind us of Your affection for those we despise; Your concern for those who oppress us; Your love for those we consider unremarkable. Teach us to worship You through our care for others.