“He has told you, O man, 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?” Micah 6:8 ESV
A very popular trend in the church today is bearing the mark of your church in the form of a window cling on the rear window of your car. Many of you have seen this, and perhaps many of you also have proudly displayed in your car window your church’s name and logo. Before I go any further, I just want to say that I am in no way against this. In fact, I love the display of loyalty to one’s church body. I get pretty excited when I’m driving around the greater Phoenix area and I see churches represented on cars all around me. One church in particular has coined a pretty remarkable mission statement through the above verse in Micah, and I love it. Sometimes, you can be a part of a church for years and never really figure out exactly what that church is about, what they exist to do. This particular church has made it abundantly clear to all what their three-fold mission is: do justice, love mercy, walk humbly. I can’t help but be encouraged every time I see one of their stickers. I can’t help but be brought back to this verse and wonder, “God, this is what you are about, isn’t it?”
Not only do I regularly see this window cling as I drive around, but we recently studied this verse in our small group, and it came alive to me in a whole new way. Many of your versions will use the word “mercy” in place of kindness as found above in the English Standard Version. What I found to be interesting about this particular word “mercy” or “kindness” is that it is the Hebrew word “hesed” in the original text. This word best translated into our modern English is “loving-kindness”. So, what Micah is commanding us all to do under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is to “love loving-kindness”. I don’t know about you, but this just fascinated me. Let me tell you why. The word “hesed” or mercy/loving-kindness is the same word used throughout the Old Testament for God’s love towards His people, Israel. Although the people of Israel radically and repeatedly turned from God, God continued to pursue them with His loving-kindness. The sin/confess cycle of the Israelites is almost absurd in light of God’s incredible faithfulness towards them from the beginning, yet still they continued to wander in their sin.
Of course, it’s easy for us to say today how absurd their wandering was, but we do the very same thing, don’t we? We find ourselves dissatisfied in some area of our lives, doubting that we can find all we are desiring in Christ alone, so we turn to the temporary pleasures of sin, only to be found in a heap of mess, crying out for God to save us. And what does He do? Every time, He meets us in our pit with His loving-kindness, His mercy. Mercy, in a nutshell, is not getting what we deserve. The Israelites deserved death, not His repeated expressions of mercy, and so do we. However, He readily extends it to us every time we call out to Him. He loves to show us mercy. He delights in expressing His love to us in this way. Scripture tells us that God rises to show us compassion. He’s literally moved to display His loving-kindness. And that’s exactly what He is requiring of us.
Interestingly enough, we just finished a week of reflecting on forgiveness. Now, this week, we move to humility. Although two very different themes, I can’t help but see the connection between the two. If we are to live lives of forgiveness, wouldn’t that require us to humble ourselves? Right here in Micah 6:8 we receive a three-fold charge: do justice (do the right thing), love loving-kindness (in the same way that Christ Himself loves to extend His mercy to us, we are to extend mercy to others), and walk humbly (if we get the first two right, this one naturally follows). How can we not be humble if we are doing justice and loving loving-kindness the way that Christ Himself does? I desperately want to be one that lives out this verse. I want these three qualifiers to describe my life. Do you?