Introduction: The book of Micah is a short but powerful prophecy predicting the fall of Jerusalem and Samaria and offering hope that a “remnant of Jacob” (Micah 5:7) will later be restored. In chapter 6, God reminds His people of how He has cared for them in the past.
Micah questions how he can be restored to God. He goes so far as to suggest sacrificing his own child.
“Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:7)
With this statement, Micah shows the desperation that God’s people feel to return to Him. But he immediately follows that statement with the verse we are studying. Micah reminds himself that God has already shown the way, and it’s quite simple.
- Act Justly
The first step, God says, is to act justly. Acting justly, or doing justice, is “the quality of being impartial or fair.”
Meaning: 1) judgment, justice, ordinance 1a) judgment 1a1) act of deciding a case 1a2) place, court, seat of judgment 1a3) process, procedure, litigation (before judges) 1a4) case, cause (presented for judgment) 1a5) sentence, decision (of judgment) 1a6) execution (of judgment) 1a7) time (of judgment) 1b) justice, right, rectitude (attributes of God or man)
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute,” (Psalm 82:3).
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and please the widow’s cause,” (Isaiah 1:17).
Application: We usually think of OT justice for poor, weak, broken and discriminated.
1. To God his due; thy heart, thy body, soul, and spirit; thy wisdom, understanding, judgment. “To love him with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength, and thy neighbout as thyself.” This is God’s due and right from every man.
2. Thou art to give thy neighhour his due; to do to him as thou wouldst that he should do to thee, never working harm to him.
3. Thou art to give to thyself thy due; not to deprive thy soul of what God has provided for it; to keep thy body in temperance, sobriety, and chastity; avoiding all excesses, both in action and passion.
7 Elements about God and Justice
- Justice is center to God’s character
- God expects that justice be at the center of his covenant people.
- 3. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is where the justice and mercy of God meet.
- 4. God does not relate to the world strictly according to justice, but through grace and mercy.
- 5. Personal piety without a life marked by justice is repugnant to God.
- 6. Justice was a primary concern of the ministry of Jesus and his kingdom.
- 7. God will bring about ultimate justice on earth through his Son Jesus Christ
The Fit Between Justice and Goodness
Those who have developed a ‘good’ sense of justice tend to:
Want the right sort of things, to the right degree;
Want their ‘fair share’ of goods, so that they get what they deserve; and
Want others to get their fair share of what they need to lead a ‘good’ life.
In other words, such people have a strong sense of what they and others really deserve—and what they need to lead a ‘good’ life. Justice relates to the concept of treating others well.
- Love Mercy
The next command offered by God in Micah 6:8 is “to love mercy.” According to the Encyclopedia of the Bible, mercy requires both an inward disposition and an outward action.
“It is evident that mercy combines a strong emotional element, usually identified as pity, compassion, or love, with some practical demonstration of kindness in response to the condition or needs of the object of mercy.” – Encyclopedia of the Bible
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. – (Ephesians 2:4-5)
To love mercy means to love the mercy we have been shown, and in exchange to love showing mercy to others in the same way.
Justice and mercy go hand in hand when we go out of our way to give to others, to serve others, and to share forgiveness with those to ask. All of us are guilty before God, and only in Christ are we forgiven and found to be guiltless. We show mercy because mercy has been shown to us.
- Walk Humbly
The third command in Micah 6:8 is “to walk humbly with your God.”
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves – (Philippians 2:3)
We walk humbly with God when we acknowledge that He is just and that only through His mercy are we made whole. When we truly believe this, it flows out of our lives and into the lives of others. As with justice, humility is an action. We are to walk with Christ in humility, not running ahead, not standing still.
Humility is perhaps one of the hardest things for us to show.
Application: We live in a world that glorifies the strongest, the smartest, and the best. Humility, therefore, runs counter to everything we are taught to hold meaning. Yet Jesus gives the exact opposite example.
The apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:7-8 that Jesus displayed the ultimate act of humility in that, “he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”
Application: Recorded in Matthew 20:25-26, Jesus taught that if anyone wants to be great, they must do the opposite of what the world calls greatness. We are not to seek power or glory for ourselves but become the servant of others. A few verses later, He reminded His disciples that He himself came not to be served, but to serve.
Illustration: Samuel Morse was born into a preacher’s home in New England just two years after George Washington was elected the first president of the United States. After finishing his education at Yale, he went to England to hone his painting skill. Upon his return to America he was recognized as a gifted artist and was soon in much demand. Morse’s first wife died while he was away from home painting in Washington, D.C. He did not receive the news until it was too late. In his heartbreak he turned away from painting and began trying to develop a means of rapid communication over great distances. This eventually led to his discovery of the telegraph.
Despite his fame and the many honors that came his way, Morse wasn’t proud or boastful. In a letter to his second wife he wrote, “The more I contemplate this great undertaking, the more I feel my own littleness, and the more I perceive the hand of God in it, and how He has assigned to various persons their duties, He being the great controller, all others His honored instruments…. Hence our dependence first of all on God, then on each other.”
When we walk in pride and are conceited regarding our talents and accomplishments, we are demonstrating that we do not understand or appreciate the role that God holds in everything we do. None of us are able to succeed in our own strength or wisdom; we should always remember it is God that makes what we do possibl
Conclusion: Micah 6:8 is a concise but powerful field guide to serving God. When we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, He declares that it is “good” and “what (He) requires.” No wonder we print this verse on our T-shirts!
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