He has shown you, oh man, what is good and what the LORD requires of you; to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God! — Micah 6:8
As a young boy, I was greatly impacted when I learned the verse above in song form, word for word. I have heard many people ask, “Well, what does God want from me?” Many times I have just wanted to quickly retort, “Micah 6:8!” You see, this verse has become a breastplate and shield for me.
The world today is full of hurting, hopeless, and heart-broken people. There is a great need for people who do not fall into that category (and those who do as well) to step up and seek justice for those who have no voice. At the same time as we fight for justice though, we also must love mercy for those who don’t deserve it, because God surely knows that neither you nor I deserve His mercy either. This great, and yet raw, recognition should drive us to our knees in humble reverence and adoration of God Almighty… You see, as we obey and do justly and pursue justice we become very aware of how we ourselves are so far away from being truly, perfectly just. This leads us to recognize God’s great mercy upon us and then compels us to also share mercy with the undeserving! Furthermore, the great recognition of God’s unfathomable and awesome mercy toward you and me can do nothing less than destroy our pride and arrogance, and initiate a path of humble journeying with the most gracious, merciful, and loving Lord and King!
As I work in a field of experience that exposes me to some very raw and devastating circumstances, with children who are orphaned and/or vulnerable to a variety of very traumatic and unbelievable realities, I am prone to be hardened toward the perpetrators of the drastic evils I encounter. Recently, as I did a Skype call into a high school class in the United States, while working on the ground in Guatemala, I had a great opportunity to share with the students of some of the blessings and challenges I have been encountering in my work and ministry. At the very end of the class, as the professor (a good friend of mine) was thanking me and preparing to end the call, one student asked if he could pose one more question. I assured the professor that I was available for the question, without knowing exactly what the student would ask.
As the professor repeated the question to me, I burst into uncontrollable tears. The student had asked me, “What is the hardest situation you have encountered there on the ground in Guatemala?” My immediate response was, “You don’t want to know!” However, after I regained some composure, I shared a difficult, but not the worst, situation with the class. I was surprised by my own response, and had to take some time after the call to be in prayer and meditation.
The reality is that my tears were provoked because I understand man’s heart to judge, accuse, and condemn. Some of the most horrific things I have encountered in life have been perpetuated on others by very hurt and broken people. We want to immediately make them the enemy, but God does not. What would happen if our wise and thoughtful response would become guided not only by a self-righteous desire for justice, but rather a God-guided justice, that includes great humility and mercy? Maybe, just maybe, we have offered Satan such a large place in our lives that we allow ourselves to be controlled by a false self-righteousness that causes us to think that we are just to condemn others. A wise Man once said, “Let him who is without sin to be the first to cast a stone.”
Maybe our pursuit for justice needs to be more informed by God’s eyes, heart, and love. How much greater would love triumph as we forgive, as we love the unlovable and extend unmerited mercy, and as we humble ourselves to truly recognize our own depravity and desperation apart from God’s own justice, mercy, and humility? May we today reflect honestly upon the majestic mercy we have received, not neglecting deep and beautiful justice for those who have not received it, while humbly recognizing that the perpetrators are not truly the enemy, but that Satan and godlessness are at war with God’s plan for peace and prosperity for His children. May we truly learn to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God! Help me, Lord Jesus! Help us, Lord Jesus! Amen!