Tall Orders…

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you,
But to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

This is one of those passages of Scripture that just reached up and grabbed me out of the blue. WOW! Those ARE some tall orders. Just because they were written about 750 years before Christ, doesn’t mean that aren’t as applicable today as they were 2750 years ago. America, in 2015, mirrors in many ways, Israel in 750 BC. So, sit back, hold on and buckle up, as we take a look at what God, through Micah, requires of those who are in His family.

What does the LORD require of you?
This is a command, a requirement, not merely a request, by the LORD of all creation, and He has set in place three requirements:

To do justice…
God loves justice. God is a God of justice. Justice is one of His many attributes. Justice is mentioned about 125 times in the Bible, so that ought to give us a clue that doing justice should be a very high priority.

We do love justice, most of the time. We really like it when the bad guy gets caught, convicted, and sent away from society for an appropriate number of years. One of the problems is that we have a broken judicial system, one that concentrates on putting SOMEONE away for a crime, but not always the right person. We love it when cases are “solved“, just as long as SOMEONE is held accountable, but what if that SOMEONE is the WRONG person?

What IF that SOMEONE that got convicted IS the WRONG person? Will that person every truly get JUSTICE? JUSTICE requires that the wrongfully-convicted person not only gets his name cleared, but that he also gets appropriately-compensated for what he has lost during his incarceration. That is where justice gets sticky, because how will that person ever get his good reputation restored? What about his lost job, his lost wages? God, in His law, commanded restitution as part of justice. Restitution is sorely-lacking in the American judicial-system.

God has commanded us to do justice in ALL areas of our lives, and in all parts of our society. That, admittedly, is where it gets sticky for many Christians. We love justice as long as it is going OUR way, but we get all bent out of shape when it doesn’t go OUR way. We have seen that recently when police officers got acquitted of murder in the “wrongful” death of “unarmed” Black men. Sorry folks, but if you didn’t sit on those juries and hear all of the testimony, you DON’T know all the facts. I am not taking sides. We simply don’t know all the facts. God loves when justice is done, but He HATES our selfishness.

Doing justice” is about more than just murder trials and court cases. It is also about the laws we write and the attitudes behind them. How many times has someone seen something that they didn’t like, and said “There ought to be a law“? By the time the law was written and passed, it had painted the issue in such broad brush-strokes that it included things that were totally-unrelated. “Public-nudity” laws are one of many examples. In an attempt to prohibit “adult entertainment“, the law also outlaws simple ordinary-nudity if anyone else can see the nude person. Those laws are the result of the “tyranny of the malcontents“. Are we honoring God, or are we honoring ourselves, when we say “There ought to be a law…“? Is that really “justice“?

Capitol-punishment has come under a lot of scrutiny in the last several years because of several “botched” executions. How can an execution be “botched” when the prisoner dies? What is “cruel and inhumane punishment“? I would propose that, because of the brutality of their crimes, some prisoners should be crucified Roman-style, naked and in public. That would fit the punishment to the crime. Perhaps we shouldn’t be executing ANYONE, and yet the Bible prescribes capitol-punishment for certain crimes. My question is: “Is capitol-punishment really “justice””? I am not taking a stand on capitol-punishment, but we need to think long and hard before we execute another prisoner.

To love mercy…
Mercy:
: kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly
: kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation
plural mercies

Full Definition of MERCY (from Websters dictionary)
1 a :compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; also: lenient or compassionate treatment <begged for mercy>
b :imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder
2 a :a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion
b :a fortunate circumstance <it was a mercy they found her before she froze>
3 :compassionate treatment of those in distress <works of mercy among the poor>

Are mercy and justice polar-opposites? Are they mutually-exclusive?

We can learn a lot about mercy from God, because if God was strictly the God of justice, the human race would have ceased to exist long ago. God doesn’t “owe” us anything, including our next breath, but in His mercy, He gives us far better than we could ever “deserve“. If He gave us what we “deserve“, this breath would have been our last, if He allowed us to make it this far.

What we should come away with is a sense of profound-gratitude to God for the mercy He shows us moment by moment, and the desire to extend mercy to those around us, even if, particularly if, they don’t really “deserve” it. Extending mercy to those around us should become a way of life, because we all can be jerks, and it is hard to extend mercy to a jerk, but we receive it anyway.

To walk humbly with your God…
Have you ever heard it said of someone “They are humble, and proud of it”? Pride and humility are mutually-exclusive. Genuine humility is illusive, because once we think that we have it, it has already escaped our grasp. I have struggled with pride for most of my fifty-nine years, which is no secret to seasoned readers of this blog. God keeps His two-by-four handy for when I need another lesson in humility.

There is a story told about a young boy, a second-grader. At the end of the school year, the teacher had all the children vote for who was the “Best looking“, who was the “Best student“, and on and on, and the last one was “Most humble“. This young boy was voted “Most humble“, and so when the teacher handed him the “Most humble” pin, he proudly put it on… Had he calmly pocketed that pin…

True humility before God doesn’t debase us, rather, it exalts God to His appropriate place of honor and glory. We don’t need to grovel before God, because as our Heavenly Father, He loves and cares for us. We need to acknowledge that HE is God, and we are NOT, and give Him the glory He deserves.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you,
But to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

I know that I still have a lot of work ahead of me before I even get close to keeping these commands. How about you?

In Christ,
Steve

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