‘…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)
Sometimes we can focus on the wrong things and they can prevent us from missing what is really important.
Sometimes it’s not that we are focused on things that are wrong, it’s that we focus on things that are less important and neglect what’s most important.
Here Micah tells Israel that God has a complaint against them. They have been so focused on some things to the expense of the things that really matter.
They were focused on the details of the sacrifices that they bought before God but had forgotten that true worship is about how they live their whole lives, and how they treat other people.
There was no point bringing elaborate sacrifices before God if they then go out and fail to treat others as they should.
Jesus picks up on this in
Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness…”
He tells them that they shouldn’t neglect the other things they were concerned about, but they shouldn’t focus on them to the expense of considering the weightier matters of the Law, which are how we behave towards others.
So what are the weightier matters?
Micah tells us that they are:
- To act justly: This means to act fairly towards people. This can take many forms. It can mean not showing partiality, not including ourselves in office gossip, not cheating anyone out of anything.
- To love mercy: Notice Micah doesn’t say to act mercifully, he says to love mercy. This is from the heart. We are to love showing mercy because we have been shown mercy. Those to whom God has been merciful should be especially good at showing mercy – this is why Micah reminds them of how God mercifully led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.
- Walk humbly before God: To walk here means the way we live our whole lives. It’s a metaphor for living as in Genesis 5 where it says that Enoch walked faithfully with God.
True humility is not thinking of ourselves as so important that we don’t serve others. Humility is about stooping down in order to lift others up.
This is the heart of the incarnation; God stooping down and becoming human in order to be just, show mercy and lift us back up to himself. The king left his throne and his glory and was willing to stoop down to the point of death in order to lift us up.
How are we to live in response, ‘to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before God’.
Father, may the justice, mercy and humility of Jesus permeate our lives now and forever, in Jesus’s name,
Have a good week focusing on what is important.