… with Your God
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 (NIV)
You have probably read and heard this verse quoted before. You may have even seen it on a letter board within a home. I have it on my desk.
I knew I wanted to write about how seemingly stagnant we are as humanity for awhile.
A few weeks ago I had the idea for this blog post, but I didn’t know the time to write would come after the sickening news of how George Floyd was treated and eventually murdered.
I actually thought this post was going to be about how someone else death has recently shaken me. But I write today, shaken in a different way.
I’m torn. There is a part of me that is surprised that we are still seeing this kind of behavior and abuse in 2020. But, on the other hand, I am not surprised. And, I am not because of what I read in the Bible. We should expect things to progressively worsen (2 Timothy 3:13). We should expect humanity to increasingly move further away from God because these have been told to us in the Bible.
We cry out in these moments for justice and mercy, but we must yearn and walk humbly as we cry.
If you know me well enough, you know I’m an 8 on the Enneagram (the Challenger) and I have no problem speaking up when I’m passionate about a particular topic or injustice. If you know other 8’s you may find them to also be people that want to fight for what is right, true, and just.
But, for me, I hear in these moments, a gentle whisper to love mercy.
I am not to increase my voice or scream with a vengeance, but I am to slow down and cry tears of calling upon our merciful God.
That’s the Father’s whisper to me. I am not saying that is for you. In fact, in that same verse the Father is speaking to me from, He says, that the Lord requires us to act justly, or translated in the ESV or NASB, to do justice.
We can love the idea of justice, but that’s cheap. Doing justice almost always requires us to love in a way that is personally costly to us. True love is not cheap, so God tests our hearts by making justice concrete, something we must do.
When it comes to kindness, God flips this around and commands us to “love kindness,” not “do kindness.” Why? Because the command to “love kindness” has the same heart-revealing effect as the command to “do justice.”
My flesh would prefer it to read, “Do kind things.” In this case, commanding action rather than affection is a bit more manageable.
But the command to “love kindness.” One that pierces to the heart of things. This is far more demanding than merely doing kind things, which can easily be reduced to “occasional kind acts.” Loving kindness demands a deep structure heart orientation that shapes all our actions.
Mercy means kindness. We love mercy by loving kindness.
And like doing justice, loving kindness is costly. It almost always requires loving people in ways that place their needs and preferences ahead of our own. We can’t love kindness and love selfishness at the same time. So, God tests our hearts by making kindness not merely things we do, but something we love.
Walking humbly with God is to walk in repentance.
That’s why Martin Luther said in his first of 95 Theses, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
To walk in repentance is not to walk in condemnation but in freedom.
For the Father so loved us in kindness (Ephesians 2:7), that he sent his only Son to do justice for us (Romans 3:26), in utter humility (Philippians 2:5–8), that we might have eternal life in which to know and enjoy him (John 3:16; Philippians 3:8–11).
The beauty of the gospel is that what God requires of us in Micah 6:8, He has already purchased for us and accomplishes it in us. So, when the Spirit convicts us of our sin, He never condemns (Romans 8:1). When He comes look it is always redemptive. He exposes us only to break the power of sin and set us increasingly free to walk as Christ walked: doing (acting) justice, loving kindness/mercy, and walking humbly with God.
As I shared before, it comes easy for me to grab a megaphone in raising my voice. And we should raise our voices right now and stand in unity against the injustice we see and the lack of kindness that has been so visibly on display. But when we do, God requires of us to walk it out in kindness and humility.
The other words that the Father whispered to me, were, check your heart son. I was being asked to examine my own heart before I spoke out and acted. And, Micah 6:8 exposes me. Those words swing the door of my heart wide open for all to see.
What might God say to you if you sit with those words filling your mind?
About the Author: stu barton
Stu serves as our Young Adults Pastor within our church. He gives vision, teaching, and leadership to BYA. He is both British and American as he was born in Liverpool, England, and lived in California, USA, before moving to Edmonton in 2016. He is married to Sarah and has two kids, and one on the way this summer. Pastor Stu desires to see this generation become resilient disciples by being with Jesus, becoming like Jesus, and practicing the ways of Jesus. It won’t take long for you to see that he loves people deeply, but also loves the original football (soccer) maybe a little too much!