[pullquote]He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8[/pullquote]
It’s a popular verse isn’t it? Easy to quote when we sense injustice and want things to look different. We appeal for others to have compassion and for people to be less arrogant. We use Micah 6:8 as foundational for living an authentic Christian life.
But the more I study this passage, the more I think we’ve always missed the point. Look at what the three core components are. I don’t think it’s justice, mercy, or humility.
It’s the verbs. It’s in the action.
The core thing that God wants from us is, in a word, movement. Movement towards ‘the other’. Movement towards those that are different, excluded, down-and-out, rejected, despised, or unassuming.
Here’s why it’s important.
When we spout a term like ‘justice’ we tend to think that passive support is acceptable. When we hear that people don’t have clean drinking water, we can too easily think that justice is giving money to an organization so we feel better about ourselves. We trick ourselves into thinking, “I’ve acted justly today.” The truth is, when we settle for this mindset, we become passive, not active. We don’t move towards the other, we send money at the problem.
We do this at the local level too. When our churches have a ministry, we take credit for it even if we don’t become involved. Yes, your church may have a ministry to troubled teens, but if you do nothing to help that ministry succeed, it becomes troublesome to say , “We love the youth population of our community.”
It doesn’t work because love is verb. It’s an action. There’s no possible way to love passively. Think of a marriage. If I tell my wife I love her but never help her or show her, it becomes hard to believe. Yet when it comes to “doing the Lord’s work” we often trick ourselves that passive agreement with something (justice, mercy, humility) is the same as actually practicing.
What God wants, is not some mental agreement with an abstract concept. What he wants is heart transformation that leads to action.
Enjoying the idea of justice is a lot different than acting justly.
Affirming the concept of mercy looks drastically different loving mercy
Agreeing with the need for humility is one thing, but walking with humility is something different entirely.
Don’t get me wrong: justice, mercy, and humility matter. But not as concepts or things to be affirmed. They aren’t qualities that we can engage in passively. What God requires of us in this passage, is not mental agreement. It’s action. It’s movement. It’s an embodiment of the living Good News to those around us.