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.
(Micah 6:8 NIV)
As I have been talking with other leaders in our city, this verse seems to sum up what God is saying to our city in this time. Three things which, as I see it, build progressively...
To act justly
There is a promise in Isaiah 58:11-12 about restoration, which includes repairing broken walls. Sounds good. But there are also conditions in the preceding two verses: "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed" (vs 9b-10a NIV).
This month I have been reading the so-called minor prophets. (That is, the 12 shorter books of the prophets.) And, perhaps more than before, I see that a substantial part of their message is about doing justice, and especially economic justice. A few examples:
- Micah 6:9-12 specifically condemns exploitation and dishonest trade.
- "But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always. The merchant uses dishonest scales and loves to defraud." (Hosea 12:6-7 NIV)
- The sins of Israel: "They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed." (Amos 2:6b-7a NIV)
Clearly, this is a big deal to Father God. And I can hardly imagine the sorrow in his heart when his own children do things like that.
To love mercy
You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.
(Mic 7:18 NIV)
I am only beginning to really understand what it means to love mercy. First of all, just the idea that there are things which are a delight to God has taken some getting used to. And then, discovering that he delights in showing mercy—a statement made in the midst of prophecies of judgment—fills me with wonder.
But the hard part is myself becoming a person who loves mercy. Sure, most of us would like mercy to come our own way. But do we love mercy? Or would we rather see (other) people get what they deserve?
What does it look like when God, who delights in mercy, says that "vengeance is mine" (Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19)? If nothing else, I am convinced that he doesn't want his children getting in the way of his delight, by trying to carry out vengeance on our own. Or even wishing for it.
To walk humbly
Humility is being who you are. Not more. Neither less.
To walk humbly with your God is to acknowledge that you need him.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
(1 Pet 5:6-7 NASB)
Walking humbly is walking hand in hand, where he is leading, at his pace. It includes justice and mercy, because that is what he is doing. It means waiting on him (Isaiah 40:31) and not turning to our own way (Isaiah 53:6). It is a life of peace and fulness.
Where to go from here
We don't yet see how this is going to play out. But there are areas of oppression in our city which need to be transformed to mercy and humility. And if we are really going to see the city change, then it has to start with those of us in leadership. So I look in anticipation toward the coming months...