Is there someplace in the Bible where God has told us flat out what He wants of us, plain and simple, in just a few words?
How about Hosea 6:6?
"For I desired MERCY, and not sacrifice, AND THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD more than burnt offerings."
The Hebrew word translated "mercy" is hesed (some spell it chesed)
Certain movies may move you right through a whole box of Kleenex.
You do a thorough study on the hesed of God in the Old Testament, and you may as well buy stock in the company.
"Mercy" doesn't quite adequately translate it. It is the compassionate, unfailing , active, vigorous tender lovingkindness of God. It's the theme of the book of Hosea; one of the most poignant, above and beyond the call of duty love stories that will ever kick through the stone walls of a self-protecting human heart.
If you check out all the instances where the word appears throughout the O.T., you'll find, by far, the great majority of times hesed is used to describe God.
Only a few times is it a word that can be used to describe a man. And when it is, it is always a man who walks with God closely, and knows Him intimately, so that God’s own character spills over and flows through him or her.
That is why the two parts of Hosea 6:6 go hand in hand so naturally.
"Knowledge of God."
See, HESED is the very character of God (Exodus 34:6-7).
In fact, you could say He's got a monopoly on it. Cornered the market (see Psalm 62:12).
It is NOT characteristic of men (Romans 3:10-18).
The ONLY way for a man to exhibit hesed is for him to be intimately connected with, consistently dependent on, continually SOURCED in the One whose very nature IS unfailing lovingkindness -- the Lord GOD Almighty.
I think, in general, we are far too severe in our judgment of others. I know I have been.
We are so very quick to write people off when they mess up; especially if their screw-up has disappointed us, embarrassed us, or affected us negatively in some way.
Someone dear recently told me it helps to assume everyone we meet is really just doing the best they can.
Sorry, I can't buy that.
From what I've seen, I think that very few people are really doing "the best they can" a lot of the time.
Nah. I don't think it's because people are doing the best they can that we ought to treat each other a whole lot better than we do.
That would imply we actually deserve better treatment.
Rather, it's because the very nature of God is COMPASSION, lovingkindness, tender mercy where it is not in any way deserved, yet at the same time so very desperately needed.
Because, in our bare essence, we are a race of seriously messed up mortal beings.
And if we don’t get the compassion of God working for us, we are seriously, seriously DONE FOR.
It's exactly what He so clearly and indisputably demonstrated, once and for all, at the Cross (Luke 23:34; Romans 5:8).
It's what He wants of us (Matthew 9:13).
Expects of us (Matthew 12:7).
Because it is the natural, effortless outflow of a thoroughgoing, intimate fellowship with Him.
Coming exclusively through the knowledge of and abiding in Jesus Christ, God's Only-begotten Son.