We all want justice. All of us are offended by something. Glenn Beck has a great book called “Addicted To Outrage” where he lays out how our society is always looking to be outraged by something. People don’t seem to know how to take responsibility for their actions anymore.
This week has been an extra reminder that there are actual offenses to be outraged by. Racism is a horrible scar that keeps opening in our world. Racism needs to go away. It’s one of the reasons that I anticipate the return of Jesus. No more pain. No more sadness. No more racism.
I’ve been watching as many people share their outrage online. I wrote about this the other day…and before you go read that, you have to know that while I may sound uncaring, I actually care a lot. Racism is disgusting–no qualifiers. The previous piece was a response about how I think the causes and solutions are misplaced…but I still think it’s a problem.
With a lot of the posts I refer to in my previous message, I see the Bible verse from Micah 6:8 accompanying it…and I don’t think people really believe the whole verse. Not based on what I’ve read. Here’s 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?” [ESV]
This is literally what the verse says. You’ll notice it reads differently from the other less literal translations. I’d like to go into the Hebrew.
First, this is a question asked of the rich people of Judah. People who were very wealthy and oppressing the poorest among them while maintaining that they were following God in their rituals and religious ceremonies. So, this passage has a context.
There are three things that Micah asks them to examine about themselves that they knew about already…he was being rhetorical because Micah knew they knew the answer. Micah asks them what is required of them that they aren’t doing: “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly”
DO JUSTICE: ‘asah mishpat אִם־עֲשֹׂ֤ות מִשְׁפָּט֙
To do justice, as Micah speaks, is an active decision. It comes from a courtroom-like situation. Micah tells them to produce a verdict. This justice is the act of deciding a case and judgment. This is for a sentence from divine law including the act, the place, the suit, the crime, and the penalty. The entirety of a court case from beginning to end.
People love this part. We are asked to be the arbiter of judgment over injustice. And Micah is telling them to act like they live justly especially over those they are oppressing. Do what’s right. Except…
When it comes to God’s law, we don’t get to enact full judgment. In reality, if we love justice, all of us should be convicted of crimes against God’s law. We all break it and we are guilty. I spoke about this before. It’s why we need God’s grace; why we need the Gospel of Jesus.
Also, this is active. It’s something we should be doing in our everyday lives. Not something we do only when we are outraged or when we see evil happening. And it’s not about other people. It’s about us and how WE live. Live justly in your life. Jesus spoke about this in his Sermon on the Mount when he talked about the log in our eye but pointing to someone’s speck in theirs.
LOVE KINDNESS ‘ahab checed וְאַ֣הֲבַת חֶ֔סֶד
This is human love and God’s love, all love wrapped into one. And it is about goodness, kindness, and faithfulness. Many translations use the word “mercy” but it really isn’t that word. It can be translated this way but it is the kind of mercy you give someone you pity. Fits with what Micah is asking of Judah. You should love to show kindness to those who are less fortunate than you. This is the mercy Jesus showed those who couldn’t really live the way he asked them to. Like the people who were like sheep without a shepherd in Mark 6:34.
WALK HUMBLY halak tsana‘ וְהַצְנֵ֥עַ לֶ֖כֶת עִם־אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ׃ פ
Humility should be a manner of life; the way one should live. Go and be modest. Be willing to be lowly and show humility. Micah asks them if they are showing off what they have in order to retain their status in life or if they are willing to be nothing. Give it all away. Jesus asks the rich people of his day to do the same thing. If your riches are preventing you from following me, give it away. Many walk away sad because the reality is they like the attention. They like their wealth.
We do well with the first part of this passage. We are very willing to give out our opinions and judgment on others. But I’ve been disappointed in many who are sharing this passage with their calls for justice because they aren’t doing the other two.
We all want to see justice in this current racial disparity. I do too. But we aren’t doing very well in the way we are saying it and we certainly aren’t loving kindness (mercy) or walking very humbly as we virtue signal and tell people they are all horrible unless they agree with and tow the line of progress. When it comes to this passage, we’re all the people of Judah not listening to what God wants from us.
Finally, we’re not really interested in true justice for the guilty. We want to lift up and create straw men to be angry with. We blame the President. We blame political parties. We blame marchers. We blame other races. Let us never forget that the kind of justice Micah calls for in this passage–God’s justice–would send us all to the executioner. Every single one of us.
Most of the social justice gospel people speak of today does not bring justice nor the Gospel to our world.
I am so thankful for Jesus. His blood was shed so that we would be found innocent. God forgives us. He sees us as His own and forgets our iniquities. The evil we do to shame God is erased. How amazing is this?! I don’t deserve it but He gave it to me anyway.
I will speak out of the evil in the world and add my voice to the oppressed. But I also need to be active in how I show kindness, mercy, love, and do so in a humble and lowly way. Not to prop myself up to be seen. Not to show how I have somehow been more virtuous than another because I’m not doing it for me to prove my goodness. I do it because Jesus loved even me.
If you want to show that this verse means a great deal to you on a shirt, my brother makes tees with different Scriptures on them including Micah 6:8–go check it out: