With all that’s happened in the world as of late, I’ve found myself frequently at the intersection of grief and paralysis. I’m overwhelmed by the devastating effects of racism I know I can’t comprehend on a personal level. I’m disheartened by the fact that every online conversation about any current event seems to devolve into name calling and further division. I feel desperately that I want to do something, to affect positive change — and yet when I try to figure out what to do, I come up empty.
However, the one thing I do know how to do when life is overwhelming and doesn’t make sense is to pray. And one day as I found myself crying out to God asking, “What can I do? What can be done?” he brought Micah 6:8 (NIV) to mind:
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Wow, there’s some really good stuff in there, isn’t there? I didn’t want to miss out, so I took some time to study the passage. There are three things listed here: Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.
Justice is important to God. Being just is one facet of who he is, and he calls us to justice as well.
What does that look like for us individually? While I don’t have any power to hand out justice in any legal sense, I can still strive to treat others as fairly as possible. It’s also important for me to examine ways I might carry bias against people. I need to question any assumption I make of anyone before I know them.
This is a difficult task to undertake, but it’s important. And the best way I know of to do it is to ask God to reveal them to me. And I know he will. After all, David taught us how to do it when he wrote this Psalm:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
We also have the power to call out injustice where we see it. We should not be silent when others suffer. Isaiah 1:17 tells us to, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” We are called to be voices for the oppressed and marginalized.
The Hebrew word translated as “mercy” here is chesed. It’s a word that doesn’t have a direct translation into English, and “mercy” doesn’t give its full meaning. The Amplified Bible translates it this way:
“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), and to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?” (Micah 6:8, emphasis mine)
Chesed is the word often used to describe God’s active love and covenant faithfulness to his people. It’s also used to describe acts of kindness and love between people.
The important takeaway is that it’s active and it requires relationship.
This means you can’t sit on your couch and argue with people on social media. You need to get out there. You need to practice compassion and kindness in real time toward people you actually interact with.
Walk Humbly with God
There is no place for self-righteousness here. If you’re truly seeking God, you will never find yourself in a position of having “arrived” spiritually. This is a constant journey, and one we need to take in a position of humility — constantly learning and taking on the mantle of servanthood.
Listen to God, but also listen to others who have different life experiences from you. (Paul Hurckman from Venture spoke specifically to this at Substance recently!) Allow people’s experiences to give you a fuller understanding of who God is. Don’t assume your understanding of something is the right one, but always be open to learning something new. And always check your own opinions and what you hear from others against the truth of scripture.
So in summation, the answer to, “What can I do?” is an individual one. It’s one that each of us should be taking to God with humble hearts and open minds, as we continue to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Jesus.
Journal / Reflection Questions:
Which of these three things in Micah 6:8 is the most challenging for you?
What is one practical way you can show up for the marginalized around you, either in fighting for justice or showing mercy?