“With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
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,
and to walk humbly with your God?
We see ourselves as so much more advanced and enlightened than ancient cultures. Yet, even thousands of years ago, the prophets had reservations about whether the sacrificial system was really bringing anyone closer to God. They saw that it was great for the pocketbooks of the people raising calves, lambs and doves, and for the priests who made meals out of the offerings. But for everyone else, there remained a question: what does God really want from me?
Micah answered that with his famous threefold admonition: do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with God.
If you look carefully, these three ideas cover a lot of ground. Walking humbly is an attitude of the heart, a gentle way of being in the world that results from experiencing God’s greatness up close. Loving kindness is an orientation of the mind that is always looking for an opportunity to offer your best to in service to someone else. Doing justice is a set of actions that lead to a life of integrity, where you are willing to stand for the things you believe, even when it is not convenient to do so.
Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 is a memory verse that God wants us to embrace as a way of life.
For Pondering & Prayer
For you, which of the elements comes most naturally? What do you need to work on?
What would it look like for you to do justice or love kindness today – in an interaction with a co-worker, with a neighbor, with your siblings, children, or parents? And can you envision that interaction happening with humility – not me-centered but God-centered?