Micah 6:8 offers a powerful glimpse at how one transformed by the redemptive power of God ought to live. In God’s economy mere transactional living is not sufficient. Transactional living is when believers rest selfishly on the idea that they have put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation; they have their “Get Out of Hell Free” card, their fire insurance. What more is there? They are saved and excused.
But in God’s economy transformational living is the goal. Our salvation is not the end, it is the beginning, unleashing us for love and good deeds that rock our lives and the lives of those around us. Jesus Christ died so there may be a revolution within our souls; a revolution that spills outward into our respective realms of influence, wherever those may be.
And so Micah 6:8 helps us to see what that could look like. The ancient prophet declares: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God? It must be understood that those potent words come in a context of condemnation. Micah is calling out religious leaders who are all about transactional thinking. The time is now to transform our lives and our world!
Perhaps these three values will be helpful. First, is the value of action, associated with the concept of justice. In the Hebrew world justice could be defined as “restoring what is lost and reckoning with the one who created the pain.” If I am the playground bully and I take another kid’s ball, I create hurt and affront his dignity. If the teacher comes to me and takes the ball and returns it to the boy, and then sends me to the corner of the classroom for the remainder of recess, then she has acted justly—what was lost was restored and the one who created the hurt (me!) has been reckoned with. Deep within the heart of Jehovah is a burning desire for disciples of Jesus to act with justice, living lives committed to restoring dignity and honor and being willing to call out and confront evil.
Second, is the value of attitude, associated with God’s hesed love. I have defined the Hebrew concept of hesed love with the simple acronym, “He (that is, God) Extends Sinners Everlasting Devotion.” Hesed love, found throughout the Old Testament, is all about loyal, tender, patient, and merciful kindness and care—everlasting devotion. It is to this that we are called; it must be the attitude that defines us. First John 4:19 tells us that we love because God first loved us. God extends to us his everlasting devotion (most clearly confirmed through the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ). Now, it is our responsibility to extend this same unconditional love to those around us.
Third, is the value of agreement, associate with walking humbly with God. In the ancient language Micah employs, the word for humility implies agreement, deference, and surrender. The notion here is that one will yield his or her appreciation of all that life offers to the values and vision and purposes of God. Agreement with God in all things shapes the attitude of our hearts, and then shapes the actions which we pursue. These are intimately intertwined.
Agreement with God is difficult. It will mean agreeing that sin is in fact sin and that grace is sufficient for the penitent sinner. It will mean that black lives really do matter because they certainly matter to God, and our black neighbors deserve to have us in the majority culture understand the historical and present plight they face; this is a matter of restoring dignity and honor. Agreement with God will mean that we do believe murdering babies in the womb is a grievous sin, a heinous act; and that selling their body parts for monetary gain is atrocious. Agreement with God also means we call it out and advocate for those who are powerless; in this case, the unborn. That is the action that unfolds from the attitude of love that stems from our agreement with God.
And on we could go, but hopefully you get the idea. To be a disciple of Jesus demands a transformational view of our existence. Our agreement with God shapes our attitudes which shapes our actions. And we must never settle for anything less than this kind of intentional and faithful living.