What Does the Lord Require of You (Micah 6:8)?
Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
When we read this passage, what we read is a question from the Prophet Micah. The question he asks is, “what does the Lord require of you?” Often times we think the response to this question is an external sacrifice. People always overvalue the worth of a sacrifice, with the thought that the external offering is pleasing to God and could satisfy for sin. A sacrifice without an internal change and action is of no use. To understand the text, let us read a few more verses, from Micah 6:6-8.
“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Do you ever find yourself in such a situation where you come before the Lord with lots of sacrifices? What I mean by sacrifice is; you make sure you get to Church every Sunday as a token for your Christianity. Do you find yourself doing all of these religious acts thinking it is pleasing to God? For example, you bring tithes and offering by giving money to the church and other non profit organisations, you make sure you come to church every Sunday. Do you think by doing all of these “Christian” religious activities you can please God? What the scripture teaches us is that these activities on its own are of no value if it is not a result of ‘justice’, ‘kindness’, ‘mercy’ and walking in ‘humbleness’ before the Lord.
In fact, Jesus Himself addressed this in Matthew 23:23 saying “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”
Likewise friends, do you do all of these outward acts but have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy and faithfulness?
According to Micah 6:8, let us examine how we can do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God?
Firstly, we are to, ‘do justice’! To ‘do justice’ requires action from your part. No just talking, but doing. Merely talking about justice may make you appear as though you are caring about justice but it does not do anything to ease the pain of those who are suffering. Biblical justice never stands alone from the actions of love and mercy. The word justice can also be read as ‘judgment’, or ‘to do judgment’. Again right judgment is chiefly all acts of equity. This is why Jesus says in John 7:24 “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
Secondly, to love kindness uses the Hebrew word ‘hesed’. This means “loyal love” or “loving-kindness”. Not only was Israel to show justice but it was to provide mercy and kindness. In fact, both of these attributes are foundational to God’s character. Psalm 89:14 says “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before your throne;” We as children of God are to display His characteristics and love one another, in a loyal love.
Finally, we are to walk humbly with our God. This is, in fact, a description of our hearts attitude toward God. We often depend on our own abilities, instead, we are to depend on God completely. Rather than taking pride in what we bring to God, we are to humbly recognise that no amount of personal sacrifice can replace a heart committed to justice and love.
The response of a Godly heart is outward, in other words “to do justice”; it is also inward – “to love mercy”; and finally it is upward which is to walk humbly with your God.
This is the same message for you and for me. Religious acts no matter how extravagant it is on the outside can never compensate for a lack of love. 1 Corinthians 13:3 says “If I give all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
External actions that seem as though you are doing what is right is not enough. In God’s eyes, a humble heart is one that simply does what is right.
In closing, I encourage you to look at your heart condition. Examine and see if any outward activity is a result of a true change from within and not just an outwardly act.
As God’s children continue to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.
Alexander Maclaren (Exposition of Holy Scripture)
Barnes’ Notes on the Bible