We are always tempted towards a minimalist answer to the question: "What does the Lord require of us?" Some preachers will say, "Faith". Others will say, "Obedience" and yet others will say, "Worship" or "Baptism of the Holy Spirit." And so on. While none of the above is wrong in itself, they tend to be too narrowly focused. Scripture is more holistic and all-encompassing. Here in Micah 6:8, we have the three-fold divine mandate for His people for all times: "to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." The first requirement is self-directed, the second is other-directed and the last is God-directed.
Let's unpack each of these three requirements:
- Self-directed--Justice ("to do justly"): The first requirement is self-directed. It is who we are in ourselves, our character. And it should be marked by justice and righteousness. We may summarize that as internal consistency with God's moral standards. We keep ourselves to a high moral standards defined by God's law.
- Other-directed--Mercy ("to love mercy"): The second requirement is other-directed. It is our action/attitude towards others. We should be merciful towards others, not judgmental. To be judgmental is to apply a high standards to others, but not to ourselves. However, when we apply a strict standards on ourselves (first requirement), we can afford to be show mercy to others who may not be able to keep up with our standards. Mercy is triggered by compassion for the the weak.
- God-directed--Humility ("to walk humbly with your God"): Humility is an attitude that is primarily God-directed. When we recognize that all that we are and all that we have is a gracious gift of God, we are more likely to have proper assessment of ourselves. Without God as a reference point, it's easy to get big-headed about ourselves and our achievements.
So, if we observe this three-fold requirements, we won't go too far off from God's standards of righteousness.
Father, thank You that Your expectations of us are simple and straightforward. Give us grace to put them into practice. Amen.