He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.Micah 6:8
This verse is so simple. The Lord requires only three things:
- Mercy, and
After all of the commandments in the Old Testament and all the character traits in the New Testament, this simplification of life rests easy on the brain. The simplicity might be deceptive, though. What if there is an inherent order and deeper message hiding in these few words?
What would happen if we all acted justly? There would be no need for mercy. Do people act justly all of the time? No, sometimes we act unjustly.
When someone acts unjustly, what is the appropriate spiritual response? Mercy. This is so important that Micah quickly moves us quite deeply into the concept. Not only are we supposed to be merciful, but we are actually supposed to love mercy itself. Do you love mercy? Are you glad that the Lord saw fit to build mercy into his creation? He could have left it out, you know. If you love the ways of mercy, the concept of mercy, and the effects of mercy, there is a good chance you will be merciful, at least most of the time. Love mercy. But what if a particular injustice is so grievous to you that you just can’t muster the energy to offer mercy?
Then it is time to walk humbly with God. Humility is the antidote for the unmerciful heart. Am I so great that I have never caused harm? Have I never been unkind? Have I never been selfish? Have I never been trapped in sin, doing what I did not want to do? Let’s pretend that I have never caused harm or that I have never actually been trapped in sin. Then what? How do I walk humbly if I tend towards goodness at every turn? Well, I have to discover that sinfulness dwells within me, even if I am a master at mastering it. I have the potential to cause harm. I’m capable of unkindness. I could even sin just as my unjust neighbor did, but thankfully I have never had to deal with that particular temptation. And so it is the acknowledgement of my own potential to sin that humbles me.
When I am humbled, I find it a bit easier to love mercy. Loving mercy helps me to show mercy. And when I love mercy, the strangest thing happens: I don’t want to take advantage of it. Instead, I want to tread gently, doing less harm and acting more justly. Thank you, Micah. Thank you, Lord.
Today I will practice walking humbly with God, loving mercy, and acting justly.
Amen. Not only is this a good verse and thought to take into each day, but also during the memorial service as we examine ourselves and acknowledge our need for Christ.
Sandra Walker says
I just read about refusing to forgive someone is like taking poison and expecting the person you should be forgiving to die. Humbling ourselves to walk with God demands that we do the right thing.
Casey Opitz says
Thanks for these thoughts, Corina. You ask us to pretend we are not sinful. But let’s also keep sins of omission in mind. It is humbling to realize that, although we may not do a lot that is wrong, we fail almost constantly to do what is right. It’s humbling to know that Jesus did what was right — not just neutral — at every turn, every moment. And for all the right things I don’t do, I am grateful for mercy.
Sandra Walker says
In our readings of Aaron’s involvement with the golden calf and Joe Fordham’s exhort at your meeting about the goodness and severity of God we have to see God’s mercy in allowing Aaron to become the High Priest for the next 38 years. It probably took that message for Aaron to truly understand mercy! Just as in the life of Paul a Pharisee who was probably there as a young enthusiastic Pharisee harassing John the Baptist in Luke 3 then in Luke 20 realizing Jesus was talking about him in parable of the vineyard when probably it is Paul that says “God Forbid” the only use in the gospels then used only by Paul in his letters. Paul learned about how merciful our awesome God is, making him the perfect one to preach the gospel message of mercy to Gentiles.