By Rev. O.L. Johnson
The Lord put this phrase in my subconscious a few weeks ago and I didn’t pay much attention to it at first. Then it kept popping up every once in a while.
I know God always knows what he’s doing; he has a purpose, but I couldn’t figure it out. Then the other day he showed me a scripture and it all became crystal clear.
I’ve heard this phrase used over the years, usually in the movies wherein the plot involved a May to September romantic relationship. In order to keep his lady happy, the guy decided to shower her with expensive material gifts on a regular basis. She, of course, accepted each gift and encouraged him to give even more; hence, the label “high maintenance.”
The scripture referred to above shows that the high maintenance mentality is not a new development among mankind. It was alive and well during the ministry of the prophet Micah. In the first eight verses of the sixth chapter, Micah describes a scenario wherein the Lord was in a personal dispute with his people due to their transgressions against him.
Through the prophet, God asked the people why they provoked him as they did in view of all he had done for them through Moses and Aaron, freeing them from Egyptian oppression and slavery. They responded by posing a series of questions containing their ideas of how they could please God and restore their relationship with him.
What they proposed revealed the high maintenance mentality they had developed toward God. They felt that offering him material gifts, such as offerings, calves, oil, rams and their first born, would please God and change his attitude toward them. So the high maintenance mentality can be traced back to some 700 years before the birth of Christ and it still exists today.
Many of us in today’s body of Christ still believe we can please God exclusively through the medium of giving in a material sense. So we shower him with material gifts through contributing to the needs of people and to outreach ministries of all sorts. Don’t misunderstand, this is all good and necessary, but it is all for naught, if that’s all we do.
Micah enlightened the people on this issue in the eighth verse of chapter six where he reminded them of God’s earlier revelations of what he requires of all his people, including his people today. His directions were simple: do the right thing; love being kind; follow God always with an attitude of humility. By meeting these requirements, one gives meaning to his material giving.
A material focus in life isn’t a bad thing, as long as we keep it in perspective. Don’t let it be your dominant focus to the exclusion of God’s requirements just mentioned. God’s people in Micah’s time might have done better had they been privy to Paul’s observation in Romans 8:8, “they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
What could be more clear? Now, we have no excuse.
Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in South Los Angeles.
Pastor’s Corner is a religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture in life today. The column appears monthly in The Wave and on its website, www.wavepublication.com.