Rule of Life

By Michael Smith

A Reading from Micah 6:1-8

1 Hear what the Lord says:
Rise, plead your case before the mountains,
and let the hills hear your voice.
2 Hear, you mountains, the case of the Lord,
and you enduring foundations of the earth,
for the Lord has a case against his people,
and he will contend with Israel.

3 “O my people, what have I done to you?
In what have I wearied you? Answer me!
4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt
and redeemed you from the house of slavery,
and I sent before you Moses,
Aaron, and Miriam.
5 O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised,
what Balaam son of Beor answered him,
and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the saving acts of the Lord.”

6 “With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good,
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice and to love kindness
and to walk humbly with your God?


He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

The catechism of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer quotes this verse in response to a question about what God requires of the chosen people. To do justice, and to love kindness, while walking humbly with God are lovely goals, but how does one put these aspirations into practice? How will I “do justice”? How will I “love kindness”? How will I “walk humbly with my God”?

Some find a rule of life a helpful tool in the spiritual walk. I tend to think of it as a kind of “time management” for spirituality. For example, if I say that I want to walk humbly with God by offering Morning Prayer each day, then I need to decide on a specific time and place for that to happen and plan my mornings accordingly. I find that if I don’t set daily appointments with God, the busy-ness of life tends to crowd them out.

There is much written about rules of life these days. Explore in any search engine and try it out. It may be just what you need to begin making progress in what “God requires.”

Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for 15 years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He works with the Navajoland Iona Collaborative and is a Benedictine Oblate and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

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