20–26 October 2019.
It’s good to say sorry. When our words or actions hurt others it’s important for us to recognize that, to understand that we have done something wrong, and then be brave enough to go and apologize. But even better than saying sorry is not doing that wrong thing in the first place.
Many of us have suffered through this with friends, work colleagues, and even family. People let us down, disappoint us, and even physically hurt us. Then they come and apologize, only to do the very same thing again the next day. When we get stuck in this cycle of being hurt, hearing “sorry”, and then being hurt again we just get fed up with the apologies. Instead of hearing people constantly say sorry we wish they would just stop doing that hurtful thing in the first place.
That’s the way God felt with the Israelites. The elites in Jerusalem had grown incredibly wealthy, but they had done that by hurting others. In vv. 10–12 Micah talks about the way the wealthy suck money out of the poor by selling grain using dishonest measures, using “wicked scales” and “dishonest weights” to rob people, growing rich through all kinds of extortion, lies, deceit, and even violence. As Micah says in v. 10, the homes of the wicked are filled with treasures that they gained by cheating.
Even worse, after practicing so much injustice and destroying so many lives these people would go to the temple and offer their sacrifices to God, thinking that they were being good believers – only to go back to work the next day and commit all these same crimes all over again! Micah watches this horrible cycle of injustice, sacrifice, and more injustice and knows that this is not what God wants. So in vv. 6–8 Micah tells the people what they should already know: that there is something much greater than saying sorry – which is not committing those sins at all. God doesn’t want their thousands of sacrifices of calves and rams and rivers of oil. What God wants from his people is clear: “O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (v. 8).
In God’s eyes proudly refusing every day to do what’s wrong, refusing to make money by cheating, deceiving, and lying to others, refusing to do things that hurt others, and instead obediently listening to God’s will – all of that is far, far better than saying sorry.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis