In my exploration of Micah, I reached the sixth chapter today and came upon a famous verse — with some added context that I never noticed before.
Basically, God is challenging the wicked people to appear before him and plead their case in a court of law. God is the plaintiff who accuses his people of doing him and his loved ones wrong. He reminds them of the good that he’s done for them in the past, using the word “remember” over and over.
For the repentant people, the defendants, they know they are guilty and that restitution must be made. So the question is asked, “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high?” (Micah 6:6). In other words, what does God want from me?
God begins by telling the people what he does not want. He doesn’t want what the people assume, what other nations and their gods practice. He does not want nor need their gifts of cattle, or precious oil, or even their children. He does not want what they own, but as he soon makes known, he desires what they are to be better. In verse 8, God says that what he requires of us is not a secret: “He has told you, O man, what is good;and what does the Lord require of you…”
Then he outlines three of his most desired aspects for his followers:
1. “To do justice”
The prophetic books of the Old Testament are rife with complaints about the wickedness of the people against each other. The abuse of violence, of lying, of false testimonies, of cheating, and particularly of abuse from those in power and with wealth against those weaker and poorer. God is the ultimate judge and final arbiter, but he charges us to promote and seek justice in the world. We are not meant to be insular, caring only of ourselves and blind to the pain around us, but to stand up for what is right and to do what is right.
2. “To love kindness”
This is also translated as to have “steadfast love” or “love mercy.” It’s a developed quality that follows God’s heart — to love others completely and fully, without condition or prejudice. The heart full of love has no room for hate, and the life lived in love is one that pleases God greatly and makes this world a better place. We do not exalt “kind” people as much as we should in our hero worship, but we should. We should emulate those who have grasped the kindness of God and extend that to everyone.
3. “To walk humbly with your God“
Not just to walk with God, but to walk humbly. The theme of arrogance vs. humility is one that is repeated so often throughout the Bible that a reader really has to be blind not to pick up on how important it is to God.
It is possible to walk arrogantly with God, assuming that one is above the law and looking down on everyone else. It is very possible to expect God to capitulate to one’s personal whims and be at one’s beck and call, but not to do the same in reverse.
A humble walk with God paints a picture of a soul that knows the true need for God’s saving grace and continuing forgiveness. A humble person does not demand of God, but requests. A humble person remembers God’s kept promises and praises him for them. A humble person knows that he or she does not know everything, and that it is always important to keep a reign on ego and extend grace as much as possible. The humble person puts God first, others second, and themselves third.
It’s very difficult to do, and I’m ashamed to say that I often lack the humility needed for this walk. Reading this is a good reminder that these three qualities are goals to strive for as I grow spiritually.