There’s a line in Micah that I have long loved. It’s one of those go-to texts when someone asks you a big question like “what does God want from me?”
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
The prophet lists three simple concepts that God wants of His people. Are there more? Probably. But just as probably you can take whatever else you thought of and slot them into one of these three categories. Micah says what is good for people. What does God want? What is actually required of man? What does He call good?
He has showed us. It’s not complicated. All He wants is that we…
Do justly – Make your actions favorable to God. Ask yourself “would God be pleased or angry if I do this.” It’s not a trick question; your God-given conscience can be easily trained to know what is right and wrong. God always does what is right; do like He does. “If I do this will I be helping or hurting my relationship with God.” It could be that doing it, whatever it is, doesn’t affect your relationship with God at all. Maybe it affects your relationship with man, though. In which case…
Love mercy – Show compassion to others. But wait, there’s more. Because this phrase isn’t just about mercy. Micah doesn’t say “DO mercy.” He says what is good is that we LOVE mercy. In other words we can’t just be merciful, we have to want to be merciful. We can’t grumble and complain as we sacrifice for someone else (which is what mercy is, a sacrificing of justice); we have to have a heart pure enough that mercy comes naturally. God doesn’t just tell us to be merciful; He tells us to love mercy. He’s trying to appeal to our hearts, which is why the next thing you read is…
Walk humbly – Never be so sure you’re right just because it’s what you want. If you do, you’ll make decisions based on gratifying self instead of God. Walk with the humility to know that some God-fearing person may come along and say “I don’t think you’re doing this right” or “I don’t think you have the right attitude here.” Have the humility to consider the possibility that they may be right and you may be wrong.
That’s it. That’s all God’s asking for here: Just do what is right, have a heart that wants to be merciful to others, and admit you may not be perfect.
He’s not really breaking our backs with this, is He?