M icah 6:8 asks us what the Lord requires of us. There are many different ways to answer this question. You might have a passion for evangelism. So you focus on the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20. Or you might be more focused on worship and emphasize verses like Psalm 95:6. You may think that God wants holiness, and the Ten Commandments define what it is that God expects of you. Or you may emphasize Christian character, and so the fruit of the Spirit as described in Paul’s writings might be your favorite. The wide range of answers to this question helps the Christian community to be diverse, holistic, and inclusive, so that the passions, interests, and gifts of all God’s people can be realized.
Perhaps thinking about what the Lord desires of us also encourages us to develop a holistic spirituality that includes the parts of our faith that are not in our wheelhouse. If I have a deep interest and call to pray, I may need to push myself to make sure I head out from my prayer closet to share my faith. If I love the experience of worship, I probably should not ignore my neighbors as I walk or drive to church on Sunday morning.
What Micah 6:8 reveals about God’s desire for you
Micah 6:8 connects our faith with our actions, our care for those in need with our walk with God: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
While a number of Bible translations use the word “require,” following this verse’s instructions perfectly is not a requirement for salvation. God has grace for us even though we are not perfectly obedient. Some translations instead use the word “desire” in Micah 6:8. God gives us the gift of salvation by grace. This verse simply describes what God wants from us in return: to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
Walking humbly with God
To “walk humbly with God” is the basis for loving mercy and doing justice. Because of what God has done, we fully invest in healing the world around us through mercy and justice. Cultivating our walk with God provides the power and passion for us to fully engage—it grounds everything else we do.
The “walk” metaphor is used often in Scripture to describe the overall direction one’s life is heading. In Deuteronomy, there are a number of references to walking in the way of the Lord, several psalms refer to a walk being blameless, and 1 John encourages us to walk in the light. This poetic picture envisions a comfortable relationship of presence with God and a life that fits into that path.
The adverb “humbly” moves us away from arrogance and the egocentric need to always be better than others, to the simple acceptance of the gifts that God has placed within us. The hymn “Trust and Obey” might come to mind: “When we walk with the Lord in the light of his Word, what a glory he sheds on our way! While we do his good will, he abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey.”
Secondly, God desires for us to “love mercy,” or, in some translations, kindness. This is the Hebrew word hesed, which can be used to refer to God’s loving kindness to us. It is interesting to note that God wants us to be drawn to mercy—having compassion for those in need. This is not always easy, as we see so much human need; it is on our street corners and bombards us in the media.
It is easy for our hearts to harden and our minds to judge. These people are being both foolish and manipulative. They are taking advantage of our care. And we need to hear God say once again, “As one of my people, I hope you love mercy—for that is what you have received.”
Finally, God tells us to “do justice.” Perhaps you struggle to know what it means to do justice. How did I do justice this past week? What does it look like? We have often defined justice by placing it primarily in a political, economic, or judicial realm. These definitions make it difficult to identify that we are doing justice on a regular basis. Where are our courts and police malfunctioning? What laws or practices allow for racial discrimination? What businesses take advantage of low-income people and charge them exorbitant interest rates? While these are indeed a part of social injustice, and we must fully engage in them, they can be distant from our daily lives.
Our definition of justice is “to create a world where all people have equal opportunity to fully develop the gifts that God has placed within them.” While this does include the bigger political, judicial, and economic challenges we face, it can also include more basic activities, like a program that provides tutors so that kids in urban school settings have equal opportunities to learn to read as suburban kids. Justice is supporting an overwhelmed single parent who is struggling to find the time and resources to give adequate time to his or her children. Justice is taking in a foster child. Justice is employing a young person coming out of prison. Justice is a host of other activities that level the playing field and provide equal opportunity for all.
Doing justice is also developmental, meaning that we don’t simply give things away to meet a need, but we help people help themselves. Using the well-known fishing metaphor, we don’t just give people a fish, but we teach them how to fish. In our daily lives, we all have the opportunity to do justice with actions that help people help themselves. In this, we are creating an environment where people can thrive and achieve their full potential.
Questions to ponder
- What does the Lord desire for you?
- What gifts and abilities has he given you for that?
- How can you step outside your comfort zone to other areas the Lord may be desiring for you?
- What are ways you can make Micah 6:8 an action in your life?
Want to learn more about justice and mercy?
Check out “Walking, Loving, Doing,” a guide developed to help your church practice holistic ministry. This article was adapted from the guide, which was written by David Kool and Andrew Ryskamp.