He has told you, O man, 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? (Micah 6:8)
We hear a lot about justice in the world these days. In fact, there’s a fair amount of discussion within Christian circles about what the church’s role is and to what extent our involvement ought to be.
I don’t want to rehash that aspect of this verse today other than to say that our God is a God of justice, and He cares for those who can’t protect or care for themselves. But there are two other requirements given in Micah 6:8. In our pursuit of justice, we can’t forget these other imperatives.
Do you love kindness? I’ve never personally met anyone who would answer that with anything other than “yes.” Let’s ask something similar and perhaps more revealing: “Do you always show kindness in your dealings with others?”
If you are honest, no one can answer “yes” to that. I would push further and say that you’ve most likely struggled showing kindness towards your enemies. But Jesus says to “love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44), which certainly means to show them kindness. Are you able to show kindness in discussions with those of different opinions? That’s a hard one. We fail in showing kindness on a weekly, if not daily, basis. But God has called us to love kindness. We should seek it, desire it, exercise it. This isn’t something that we can muster all that well from within ourselves.
Don’t believe me? Turn on the news, talk radio or bring up a current hot topic like abortion or the death penalty in the cafeteria or at your workplace. I imagine that it won’t take long to see blood drawn. We’re in need of more kindness and perilously unable to cultivate a love for kindness.
Kindness and humility go hand in hand. But this isn’t just daily humility with others around you. This is a pervasive and deep humility before God, the One who knows all and sees all. This is intense humility and it sets even our disagreements apart from the world. Do you feel the weight of that kind of humility? I do.
It’s the humility that turns the other cheek when a blow is dealt. It’s not a false humility put on display for others to see and glorify you and me. It’s a genuine, moment-by-moment submission to God as supreme. It’s a humility that seeks to make much of Jesus in all circumstances.
As John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30). That almost feels like an insurmountable task. How can we be humble like this and love kindness with such ferocity that God is glorified?
The answer is that we can’t. It’s a weight too much for us, at least for us alone. And that is the point. Micah is prophesying to the people of God who are following the law in deed, but whose hearts are far from Him.
Doesn’t that description so often apply to you and me? That is exactly the point. We need help, but more specifically, we need salvation. Maybe you are someone who can honestly say that Christ is Lord in your life. Maybe you are questioning beliefs that you’ve grown up hearing and are in a season of doubting faith. Maybe you just happened on this post and would identify as a gnostic or atheist.
No matter where you stand. We all need the work and power of Jesus on cross, in His death and through His resurrection. God is a God of wrath and justice against the unjust. Our problem is that we are all a part of that group — the unjust. So while Micah 6:8 has imperatives for us to follow, they also are reminders for us. Because we are quick to forget.
Our memory is short. We need the daily work of Jesus to work in us. We need the Spirit of God to empower us in our pursuit of holiness. And we have awesome hope in our daily failures.
The steadfast love and compassion of God.
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion on us;
he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19)
Our failures, our sins are cast away from us and on the shoulders of Jesus. That’s where our strength and motivation come from. So love kindness because the love of God is given to you in Christ. And be humble because Christ humbled Himself, even to death on the cross for us. This is a powerful place to stay. A powerful work to not forget in our day to day lives.