He has shown all you people 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 TNIV)
I was asked to prepare a small devotional thought for tomorrow evening’s youth group meeting at Elkhart County Community Baptist Church, the church I am interviewing with and being considered to take over the role of youth minister. I was asked on Monday morning, and so have been racking my brain since to come up with something that defines me and my view of ministry. And as I thought and prayed, Micah 6:8 came to mind.
Having gathered my thoughts, I decided I’d read some sermons on the passage from a number of different perspectives to see what different people say in correlation with this verse or passage. Since I tend to lean toward a Reformed perspective on theological things, I started there in my search for sermons…but to no avail.
It seems that Calvinists don’t really deal with this verse…at least not honestly. I came across one guy who seems to actually try to take the emphasis off of acting justly and loving mercy and redirect that focus to walking humbly with God. This is all well and good, but I don’t think it does the verse, or the entire passage for that matter, justice.
When I read Micah 6:8, I see Micah speaking God’s message that God requires justice, mercy, and humble communion with God all equally. In this case, there does not seem to be a progression from the least important to the most important. All three (justice, mercy, and communion) are treated as though they are of equal importance to God. He requires all three.
This is made even more clear when you take into consideration that Micah is sort of a contemporary of Isaiah, who proclaimed a similar message. Isaiah repeatedly told the Jewish people that their blood sacrifices were useless, that God was not accepting them, and even that when someone sacrificed a lamb it was akin to them choking a dog (66:3). And what is it that Isaiah says is required?
Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17 TNIV)
Which sounds very similar to what Micah says God requires.
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 TNIV)
And this, interestingly enough, sounds like what the New Testament says is ultimately the most worthwhile in God’s eyes.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 TNIV)