During my freshman year of college, I went to a small faith-based school and ran cross-country. Each afternoon at 3:30, we would meet for our training run. Before we got started, we would stand in a circle, put our arms around each other, and sing a song.
One of my favorite songs was also one of the simplest. It was called Micah 6:8. We basically just sang the words of the verse to a little tune—the guys would start and the girls would echo back each line.
He has shown me, oh man.
What is good and what the Lord requires of me.
But to do justly,
And to love mercy,
And to walk humbly with thy God.
At the time, I probably just liked the tune of the song, and the simplicity of the message. But as I have grown older, I think the song represents the core of what being a Christian is all about.
- Do justice. God calls us to do justice. Justice has to do with whether things are fair. Justice was a big deal to God. We see this in his relationship with the Israelites in the Old Testament, in the life and teaching of Jesus, and in the teachings of the early church in the New Testament. In our society and world today, there are a lot of things that are unjust. For example, some people live in luxury while others can’t afford food, clean water, and a place to live. People are treated differently based on their race, ethnicity, religious background, or sexual orientation. Injustice is everywhere, if you take the time to look around. God calls us to work toward justice.
- Love mercy. God also calls us to love mercy. Mercy has to do with grace and forgiveness. We all mess up from time to time, and need help to get back on track. The normal response when someone hurts us is to take revenge and hurt them back. Mercy is different. Mercy means giving someone forgiveness, because we know that we mess up too and need forgiveness ourselves. Mercy gives people the benefit of the doubt, and loves even when you don’t get love in return. Mercy turns the other cheek. Mercy loves and gives grace unconditionally. People need mercy, grace, and forgiveness, but unfortunately we don’t often get it from others. God calls us to love mercy and give forgiveness generously.
- Walk humbly. The final part of the verse tells us to walk humbly with God. Our natural tendency is to be self-centered, thinking the world revolves around us. We want to become powerful, the greatest, number one. God flips the script, and tells us that he values humility. Humility involves having an accurate view of yourself, including your limitations. Humility involves moving from being self-focused to other-oriented, prioritizing the needs of others above your own desires. Humility also involves admitting our need for God, rather than thinking we can just do life on our own. God calls us to walk humbly.
Discussion: What do you think of Micah 6:8? In your life, are you doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly? Which one of these could you work on moving forward?