He has told you, O mortal, 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?
We don’t like to be called “mortal,” do we? That means we aren’t immortal – and God is. Many of us don’t like that thought.
Some of you reject the Bible and God for just that reason, don’t you?
Truth is truth, even if it’s inconvenient sometimes.
If something is “good,” then that means something else is “bad.” Good is a comparative term. This sentence says justice, kindness and humility are good, which means their opposites are bad.
Most of us would agree that justice is a good thing. I think justice means different things to different people, though.
Kindness is “good,” too. A kinder world would be a better world. We might agree with this, but not enough of us do much about it.
Humility, especially with God? That’s a tougher one. But we can’t get along with each other, much less with God, unless we “walk humbly.”
These three concepts go together. We can talk about each separately, but we can’t have justice without kindness and humility, or kindness without justice and humility, or humility without justice and kindness.
1 Just behaviour or treatment.
‘a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people’
1.1 The quality of being fair and reasonable.
‘the justice of his case’
1.2 The administration of the law or authority in maintaining this.
‘a tragic miscarriage of justice’
2 A judge or magistrate, in particular a judge of the Supreme Court of a country or state.
Here’s another definition with a slightly different slant:
- the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause.
- rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason: to complain with justice.
- the moral principle determining just conduct.
- conformity to this principle, as manifested in conduct; just conduct, dealing, or treatment.
- the administering of deserved punishment or reward.
- the maintenance or administration of what is just by law, as by judicial or other proceedings: a court of justice.
- judgment of persons or causes by judicial process: to administer justice in a community.
- a judicial officer; a judge or magistrate.
Justice has to do with law, but also with “moral rightness.” It includes being “fair and reasonable.”
Who gets to decide what is “fair,” “reasonable” or “morally right?”
Those who write the laws of the land make those decisions.
Those laws are not irrevocable, at least in this country. New leaders can change laws or write new ones if they decide that “moral rightness” is not happening.
It’s not an easy process, but it does happen. Women were given the right to vote, for example, in the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1919; before then, they couldn’t.
Earlier, on Jan. 31, 1865, the 13th amendment became law, which abolished slavery. This law has been enforced unevenly since. “Justice” and “morally right” still clash on this issue far too often.
We can’t legislate respect, although these amendments tried.
Justice in the Bible adds a couple of layers to the nation’s definitions.
We cannot begin to understand God’s justice unless we first understand sin. Sin … embodies everything contrary to God’s holy nature. Thus, sin is a crime against God, and justice demands a penalty of death and separation from Him for it (Romans 1:18-32; 2:5; 3:23). But God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to pay that penalty for us (Romans 5:8-11; 6:23) and made salvation available to all who believe in His name (John 1:12; 3:15-17; 20:31).
(This is) not in spite of His justice, but because of it. He loved us so much that despite the fact that our sin demands our death, He sent His Son to be our substitute upon the cross, thus demonstrating that His justice was not violated, but instead satisfied (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9).
The Bible also talks about “social justice.” The Bible interprets that term differently than the world does:
The Christian notion of social justice is different from the contemporary notion of social justice. The biblical exhortations to care for the poor are more individual than societal. In other words, each Christian is encouraged to do what he can to help the “least of these.” The basis for such biblical commands is found in the second of the greatest commandments — love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39).
Today’s notion of social justice replaces the individual with the government, which, through taxation and other means, redistributes wealth.
If we want to have an intelligent, meaningful discussion on justice, we need to define the term and understand what we’re talking about. If you and I think differently about justice, we might have to work hard to understand each other. Listening is essential to communication.
Kindness is a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern and consideration for others. It is considered a virtue, and is recognized as a value in many cultures and religions.
An entire movement, “random acts of kindness,” encourages us to do nice things for each other. That started in a Sausalito, California, restaurant in 1982 when Anne Herbert scrawled the words “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a placemat. From there it spread to bumper stickers, quietly at first, but with all the powerful momentum of something important – calling us to lives of caring and compassion.
We need more caring and compassion in our country. It won’t happen by accident; whether as random acts or among friends and family, kindness is intentional. God recognized this centuries ago, and “requires” this of us (along with justice and humility).
“Walk humbly with your God”
I like this definition of humility:
True humility is to recognize your value and others’ value while looking up. It is to see there is far greater than ourselves into who we can become, who others can become, and how much more we can do and be.
To be humble is to serve others for their good as well as your own.
To be humble is to have a realistic appreciation of your great strengths, but also of your weaknesses.
Humility is not thinking I am unworthy of anything. It’s recognizing my value, while acknowledging your value as well.
“Realistic” is a great word. You and I both have needs and desires, and I should serve you to improve your life in some way. That’s humility. I would receive a benefit too – the satisfaction of knowing I did something good.
Why be humble and serve others? Because God served us first, by creating us and then offering us salvation from our sins. This is not only God’s justice, but His mercy – giving us a gift we don’t deserve. It’s a small way we can say “Thank you” to God. This is where humility starts.
Micah offers a good formula for living. Justice, kindness and humility depend on each other. If I seek justice, I will seek your best interests as well as mine. If I seek kindness, I want you to be just as happy as I am (possibly more so). If I seek humility, I want to see your life get better.
All three concepts are not about me. They involve serving God. And serving you.