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 [mercy in some translations], and to WALK humbly with your God. ~ Micah 6:8
During our week at the Christian Outreach Project, we focused on Micah’s message on justice, mercy and humbleness every morning as we prepared to go to our work sites. If you are not familiar with C.O.P., adult leaders and teens from local churches come together for one week in order to make repairs on local houses in the Sussex/Warren county area. Home sites are recommended by local churches based upon the inability of the homeowner to complete the maintenance and/or repairs themselves due to financial or physical reasons. What do these three commands mean according to God?
What is justice?
Justice flows from God’s heart and character. That is what motivates God throughout the Old and New Testaments in his judgments on sin and injustice. God’s people are told to DO justice by looking after those who are the outcasts and on the margins of society – the orphans, widows, the sick, and the poor.
There is a difference between justice according to our “legal” system and God’s justice. God’s justice involves making individuals, communities and the cosmos whole, by upholding both goodness and impartiality. This is what stands at the center of true religion. In the Micah scripture, the prophet points out that God is not impressed by the grandiose sacrifices of earthly possessions to make ourselves self-righteous, but God desires that we live out our faith by working for God’s justice in the world by changing systems and helping to bring equity and wholeness to all of God’s Creation. The C.O.P week gave us an opportunity to DO justice.
What is kindness and mercy?
In order to Do justice, we have to approach situations with kindness and mercy. Kindness is being friendly, generous and considerate – treating all people with dignity. Mercy is showing compassion or forgiveness when it would be within our power to blame, punish or harm. We live in a very judgmental world which seeks to point out personal blame for life circumstances. We can easily think the solution may be that people should get their act together or “just pull themselves up by their bootstraps”, not realizing that many people have no boots and no idea how to get their act together. As Christians we are reminded that it is only through the kindness and mercy of God through Jesus Christ that we are saved. As recipients of God’s grace, we are called to be kind and merciful even if we do not personally understand another’s situation. It allows us to listen, learn and to stand in another person’s shoes. It calls us to see and understand the world not only through our own personal experiences, history, upbringing and limited lens of knowledge and understanding; but to come alongside and provide resources and help. The C.O.P. week gave us an opportunity to LOVE kindness (mercy).
Walking humbly with our God?
“Humility” is in short supply in our world today. Walking humbly with God is perhaps the most difficult requirement in the list simply because it puts God in direct competition with a fierce and unrelenting competitor: me, myself and I. While God does not want us to feel worthless, we are not to be prideful about what and why we do the things we do. When we walk humbly with God, we remember that God is the center of the world, not us. “Walking humbly” is a description of the heart’s attitude toward God. We depend on God rather than our own abilities. Instead of taking pride in what we bring to God, we humbly recognize that no amount of personal sacrifice can replace a heart committed to justice, love, kindness and mercy. We recognize that we are no better or no worse in God’s eyes than anyone else in the world. The C.O.P. week gave us an opportunity to WALK humbly with God.
The message of Micah is still pertinent today and is not something that we just practice one week a year. For Christians, it is crucial that we always remind ourselves to DO Justice, LOVE Mercy and WALK humbly with our God.
May God Richly Bless Your Journey,