What does the Lord require of you? Those words haunt me.
I have often claimed that Micah 6:8 is my favorite Bible verse. It’s the one I will recite if someone asks, “what’s your favorite scripture?” It was the verse I used at my ordination service and the one I recite when I lay hands on another who is being ordained.
This verse contains a serious charge - to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly. According to Micah, it is a requirement. Micah says, “God has told you this.” It feels like Micah is delivering a bit of a reprimand, that God has told us this, but we are refusing to live in this way. The requirement is justice. The requirement is the love of mercy. The requirement is to walk humbly. And all of this is to be done with God.
With God. Can living justly, mercifully, and humbly be done without God? Can we live in this way without daily turning to God for guidance? Can we live in this way if we despise our brothers and sisters, and live with jealousy, anger, and hate? Can we be ministers and prophets of God’s way if we are dishonest with our words and unkind in our actions?
If we back up to verse 6, in Micah chapter 8, we read that God’s words came to Micah in the form of a question. “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high?”
It seems that we seek to please God in ways that don’t really get to the heart of the matter. “The presents are nice,” God says, “but what I really want from you is this – I want you to be fair and honest with each other. I want you to be kind to each other, to offer understanding, and to be gracious. I want you to walk with a humbleness that resembles a child of God.”
We can all remember times when people have disappointed us – treated us unfairly and unjustly. I am guilty too. There have been many times when I have failed in this call to love as I should, and times when I have let my ego trump my spirit.
God’s instructions in Micah 6:8 are for each of us. No one is an exception – minister and layperson, CEO and support staff, teacher and student, politician and voter – each of us is called to the same requirement.
The question of discipleship is: How do we live and love in this world? The answer is: We are called to journey with God, and we are called to act with compassion toward those we encounter along the path.
We are to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly – with our God.