“He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God ? (Micah 6:8 NAS)
Amazing discoveries await people when they first start reading the Bible for themselves.
I decided, as a teenager wrestling with God’s call for my life, to read the Bible through. Where to start? I’d been in church long enough to know Numbers was out. Other books looked awfully long. I hadn’t heard much about the “minor” prophets, so they seemed a good place to start. Besides, the books were really short!
I was shocked by what I read.
Strong condemnation of rampant sin. Promises of harsh judgment. Powerful calls for justice. Beautiful visions of God making everything right. These guys were the action heroes of the Old Testament! (Did I mention the books were really short?)
Then came Micah 6:8. So succinct. A clear word from God. I realized how desperately I needed humility. I struggled with how little I actually loved showing kindness. I connected the dots about my personal need to do something about the injustices I saw around me.
I’m embarrassed, however, to admit it was years — no, decades — before I even saw the word ‘require.’
What did that mean? What could it mean? I thought all that was required was to “accept Jesus as my personal Savior” so I could go to heaven when I died. I knew God required the Israelites to fast and make sacrifices so their sins could be forgiven, but Jesus became that sacrifice for us. I knew my Sunday school envelope had these check boxes — church attendance, daily Bible reading and prayer, tithing, etc. — but those were, like, really good suggestions, not requirements.
I understood how walking humbly with God and loving kindness were simply what God’s people did. But “do justice”? I wasn’t even sure I knew what it meant. How could something God requires be mentioned so little at church?
The “Micah mandate” set me on an amazing journey of discovery. Turns out, the long books had even more to say about the matter. God wants, not burnt offerings, but broken and contrite hearts. (Psalm 51:16-17) Fasting with sackcloth and ashes? He’s looking for an end to unjust imprisonment, oppression of workers, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and showing hospitality to strangers — even to relatives. (!) (Matthew 25:34-36)
And when we do these things, “your salvation will come like the dawn.” (Isaiah 58:8a NLT)
Mark Kelly is editor of Multiply Justice. Copyright © 2012 Kainos Press