“He has told you, mortal one, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 NASB).
When the prophet Micah sought to summarize what God wants of us, he simplified our life before God into three directives: Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God. We are to do justice. The question, however, is whether the cries for justice in our world today reflect the biblical idea of justice.
In our Western world, we often think of justice as more of an abstract ideal. Our courthouses depict justice as a blindfolded lady with the scales in her hands, because justice is to be blind—the same and equal for all. In the Bible justice is not abstract; rather, it is defined relationally, with the central relationship being how God relates to us and calls upon us to relate to Him.
The second relational aspect is how He demands that we relate to each other, which He defines. The violation of either of these relational aspects, either between us and God or us and our neighbor, is what the Bible defines as sin. Justice, then, is defined by God. God Himself is just.
The Bible also makes clear that God is merciful. In fact, as justice cannot be just without mercy, so too mercy gains clarity by justice. They go together.
The cries for justice we hear today do not often reflect this nuanced, biblical reality. Many want justice to roll down upon our world, especially upon those who do not share their faith, politics, or morals. Yet justice requires mercy. Moreover, justice is defined by God.
Micah captures this reality. What does God desire from us? Do justice. Doing justice does not mean playing the judge; it means living in right relationship with others and actively pursuing the wellbeing of everyone around us—particularly the poor, needy, and oppressed among us.
In our efforts to do justice, though, we must also remember to love kindness and mercy. Each of us has played a role in causing or perpetuating injustice in our world. Therefore, in the same way that we need mercy, we must extend mercy to others.
And finally, we must choose to walk humbly with God. Why? We have to possess the humility to recognize that we are not the judge; only One deserves that title. Unlike human beings, God’s judgment is perfect. He always has a redemptive or restorative outcome in mind.
If we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly, then we will be able to more effectively demonstrate the truth of who God is to an unjust, broken, and hurting world. They will see that He is good, just, and full of mercy.
Father, today may we do justice and pursue what is right for all. Give us empathy for others, to stand in their place. May we love mercy and show it to all we come in contact with, and may we walk humbly with You, our merciful and just Judge. Amen.