What does GOD really REQUIRE from our LIVES? Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother. These are the things you shall do: speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ says the Lord.” (Zech. 7:8-10; 8:16-17)
A closer reading of the book of Zechariah reveals that God’s judgment had come upon the people of Israel because they had refused to practice justice, righteousness, and mercy. The above scriptural passage is part of God’s second message through Zechariah in which God explains why His judgment had come upon the nation. Umpteen times God had asked the Israelites to practice justice, mercy, and compassion. However, sadly they had refused to heed the word of God! As William Kelly has pointed out: "Ordinances, whatever they may do, never take the place of practical righteousness, and still less of faith, in the sight of God"
God’s requirements from His people have not changed even though times and seasons have changed drastically. Zechariah does not have a new message to proclaim to the people, and God’s standards of righteousness and justice have not changed. On one side God had promised calamity to His people if they disobey and live in utter disregard to His Word. On the other side, God will favor His people if they live truthfully, justly, and peacefully, avoiding the things that God hates. Thus, Zechariah set forth the ethical obligations of a life of faith as the people are called on to order their lives in keeping with God’s ethical standards!
We cannot be right with God and have wrong relationships with other people. Sacrifices and worship are of little interest to God if they are not accompanied by practical piety. So, what does God really require from our lives? There are three things that we should do, and there are three things that we should not do. Listed below are all the six attributes that we can assimilate in our lives:
- Execute true justice to others using the scales of "truth, justice, and peace" (7:9a; 8:16c). True justice means applying God’s word to our personal and social problems. To show true justice is to expose the corruption that we are prone to. Our judicial decisions must be made without partiality or bias. God hates when we judge unrighteously for it is inconsistent with His character, for He is the righteous Judge of all the earth (Gen 18:25).
- Show mercy and compassion to others (7:9b). Loving commitment and concern should guide our relationships with others. To show compassion is to enter into the lives of others to understand the brokenness of our world (Eph. 4:32).
- Speak out the truth to others (8:16a). Truth should characterize all of our dealings with others (Eph. 4:15, 25) as truth and righteousness will reign in this final era of blessing (Amos 5:24).
- Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor (7:10a). Never take advantage of the helpless and less fortunate. Instead, "pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is to visit orphans and widows in their trouble" (Jam. 1:27)
- Do not think or plan evil in our heart against others (7:10b; 8:17a). Evil scheming against others is prohibited as this is the root from which wrong actions would stem. When we keep our heart right, all our actions will be right as well (Prov. 4:23).
- Do not swear falsely (8:17b). The words that the world views as profanity, we should not utter for the simple fact as they are profane to others and an offense to God as well (Lev. 19:12-22; Matt. 5:33-37; Jam. 5:12).