Seek Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. OK… How?

The Hand by Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia

The Hand by Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia

Micah 6:8 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It captures the essence of what loving one another and loving God looks like: Justice, mercy, and humility. Each of these words are loaded with meaning… meaning that we’ve poured into them as well as the meaning portrayed by Scripture. I don’t pretend to have all of this figured out, but rather this is my own interaction with how to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?”
-Micah 6:8 NKJV

Justice in Righteousness and Integrity

I used to think justice was only something associated with the courts. My idea was that justice is a correction. Justice is more than righting wrongs; it is also a pattern doing right. Scripture paints a picture of justice as lives characterized by integrity and righteousness in our relationships. Specifically, justice means rendering a right decision towards someone. In other words, justice requires knowing God’s standard for righteousness and applying it in our dealings with one another.

God’s standard for how we act toward our fellow man is simply stated as “you shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18).” Easy to understand — difficult to live out. Pursuing the integrity necessary to love our neighbors as ourselves takes discipline, focus, and submission to God. Abiding in the Scriptures and walking by the Spirit leaves no room for vengeance, deceit, and hate.

Love Mercy

In the Old Testament, the phrase “love mercy” was often translated “lovingkindness.” Simply put, an act of love transcends feelings to seek the good or provide relief to another out of a passion for their well-being. Acting in love mercy or kindness towards one another builds us up in love and truth.

Kindness and mercy is easy until one of us sins against another. The hurt and anger are real. The betrayal is maddening. And yet, the Spirit calls us to forgiveness. This is the essence of mercy: to seek the good of someone who has done you wrong.

I wish I could tell you that there was some secret that allowed us to go from hurting to forgiving in under ten seconds, but there isn’t. We all have to go through the pain of ours and others’ sins, but we don’t have to endure the self-inflicted pain of bitterness.

The cure for bitterness and key to forgiveness lies in our own repentance. Moreover, repentance digs deeper than a mere “I’m sorry, God.” It is more than intellectual assent. Repentance recklessly abandons something wrong and charging toward Someone right. Bitterness must be filled and replaced with forgiveness. Anger over a lack of control is replaced with acknowledging that God is in control. Seeking good for our tormentors means praying that God will deal with them justly, but mercifully — for we have all sinned against God and against our fellow man.

Walk Humbly Before God

Just and loving actions toward one another are only part of living according to God’s standard. He also requires our humility.

So, why is humility difficult? Partly, we are a prideful species, and partly, we have forgotten what it looks like.

Humility is a lowering. We walk low before God in respect of His authority. We do not seek to dominate others, but to serve them. Humility isn’t weakness; it is strength. 

Humility before God starts with accepting His way for reconciliation. When we try to have a relationship with God on our terms, we’re insulting Him. The only way of reconciliation is through His terms: the blood of Jesus whom we make our Lord.

Our reconciliation and humility before God uproots us from an old life of pride and fear to a new life of humility and security. In Christ, we are evermore secure. We have new life that cannot be taken away. Our security as God’s child creates a new reality where we are free to live humbly, love one another, and serve God and man. Though this life will have hardships, we no longer have to worry about just surviving — our hope is secure.

What the Lord Requires: Seek Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly… by the Spirit

All that the Father calls us to do is possible when we walk by the Spirit in the light of His Word. As the Apostle John reminds us, the Spirit was sent to the Church as a helper. We were not abandoned as orphans, but empowered as heirs to follow in the footsteps of Jesus’ ministry.

Seeking justice, loving mercy and kindness, and walking humbly before God describe what loving one another and loving God looks like. All three of these phrases describe living out love. Yet, I often find myself feeling “just” or “kind” or “humble” is enough instead of living it out. Do you ever feel tempted this way?

If we want to be known as just people, we have to do justly. If we want to be known as loving people, we have to be passionate in demonstrating love, kindness, and mercy. If we want to be known as humble, we have to constantly walk low before God and defeat our pride.

All that the Lord requires us to do is inline with His own character. Justice, mercy, and humility are incredible expressions of His own righteousness. God demonstrates justice in establishing and keeping His covenants. God demonstrated mercy in that He sent His Son to die for us even while were dead in our sins. God demonstrates humility by mutual submission in the Trinity.

As a final thought, I leave you with this: learning to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly is simple. Look to the work of Jesus on the cross. Really look, and let it soak in… for at the cross you will see justice, mercy, and humility all at once.

 

This post is a follow-up to “Figuring Out What to Pray For” where I discuss how to focus on prayers guided by the Two Great Commandments.

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