George Burns was once asked to explain the secret of his perfect sense of timing. Most other comedians would have launched into an extensive (and probably boring) analysis of the art of stand-up comedy. Not George Burns. He simply explained that he talked until people started laughing and then smoked his cigar until they stopped.*
Micah, the Old Testament prophet, may not have been a great stand-up comedian, but we know he at least shared George Burns’ passion for simplicity. At a moment when he could have launched into an extensive (and probably boring) analysis of the life of faith, he simply said, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8, NASV)
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the challenge of being a Christian? Perhaps you’re very sincere and trying hard, but every day seems to bring a new reason to feel like a failure. Chances are good that a lot of your despair stems from the fact that you’re overcomplicating things. You’re trying to do too much. Trying to be too perfect. Trying to live up to expectations that God never placed on us.
For example, imagine me asking my daughter to stop by the grocery store and pick up a loaf of bread. When she arrives with loaf in hand, she’s frustrated and almost in tears. She explains that there were 14 different brands, some white and some wheat and some with 7 different grains, all with different nutritional information and all selling at different prices. Not only that, but she couldn’t tell just by squeezing the loaves which was the freshest.
It might seem like a silly illustration, but that’s exactly what a lot of us do. We overthink. We obsess over minor details. We fret about falling short of perfection. And in the process we make God’s simple requests much more difficult than he ever intended for them to be.
How would your life change if you quit putting pressure on yourself and just decided to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
For further reflection read Matthew 11:28-30 and 1 John 5:3
Nancy Nelson, Evenings With Cary Grant (New York: William Morrow, 1991), 52