Thursday, October 18, 2012

Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly

I have always loved reading the Minor Prophets in the Old Testament. All of those little books with crazy names that give us glimpses into God’s heart. Recently I was reading through the book of Micah and I came to a familiar verse found in Micah 6:8. It says, “He has showed you, O man, 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.” 
In the last few years I’ve seen this verse on a lot of T-shirts and taglines. This verse is all the rage as our generation wakes up to injustices around the world. Social justice initiatives like clean water, and anti-human trafficking efforts are being implemented all over the globe. Christians are getting involved in eradicating hunger and alleviating poverty, and lives are being changed. I’m sure that many of you reading this, like me, work in this field and find yourselves staring into the cold face of injustice every single day. Poverty, prostitution, kids on the streets, unfair wages, sexual and domestic abuse being widely tolerated…injustice pushes in on every side until it threatens to crush me. It makes me angry, leaves me overwhelmed, and has me desperate for a solution.
God's Word has brought us to an understanding of how deeply God cares about the poor, oppressed, widowed, and orphaned in our world. Our hearts join His in beating for the vulnerable in the country of El Salvador. The Gospel is redemptive and it can change lives holistically…body and soul, and we want to be used to bring physical relief and to share the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ.
But we can’t lose sight of God in the fight for His justice. The Gospel cannot be merely reduced to a trend, or what I think I can do for His Kingdom. God had a heart for justice and mercy long before it became popular, and long before He called me to do it. The “walk humbly” part of this verse brings conviction as I look deep inside myself and find that I am lacking. I find myself caught up in a movement, or wrapped up in a ministry instead of simply walking hand in hand with the only One who can bring justice to all the pain and sadness of this world.
How easy it is to think that my work has more value than another’s! Missionaries are tempted to lean this way. We have given everything in answer to God’s call…but so have many others, who have different callings. Our walk must be humble.
There is urgency to the commands in this verse…act justly, love mercy. There is urgency when people need saving, churches need planting, and Bibles need translating. But how often have I let the cries of our ministry drown out the voice of God?
This work of justice is one I never expected, but it is the work that God has given me. Through it He is teaching me that He is first, above any ministry no matter how desperately it is needed. He is teaching me that if I am not walking humbly with Him, then my efforts to do justice are like Israel’s sacrifices in the book of Micah…all for nothing because their true heart was not chasing after God.  I want to be used by God, and to be a part of what He is doing to redeem this world. But I never want to be so caught up in doing something for God that I lose sight of simply walking with God.
How has God been speaking to you? Do you find yourself elevating a ministry above God who makes that ministry possible? How do you keep perspective in your own life and ministry?


  1. Thanks for this thoughtful post.I find it easy to get so busy with "ministry" and life that I don't leave enough space for God. I try to slow myself down and listen to Him before committing myself to tasks and projects..

    The last two years our ministry has been challenging (CP in a mslm country) and it has been good to remember that my joy and fulfillment come from God, not from "success" in my ministry. I also try to see the whole of my life, my family and friends as part of ministry.

  2. I really resonate with what you write about. I have been working through many of the same things. One thing that keeps coming to mind over and over again is the need to focus on the gospel. That might sound basic, but it seems like a lot of the social justice movement today does a lot to meet basic needs, but stops there. Meeting basic needs is only a means to the end of sharing the gospel and doing life with these people with the goal of real life change. Most recently I was convicted about an opportunity I had to share the gospel and I didn't. In fact, I was so out of it in the moment, I didn't even think of it until later. I went back to this individual and apologized and then presented the hope we have in Christ. May we always keep the gospel central and just use the other things as a means to get there.

  3. So true and a great word. When we were fulltime in ministry there were times personally that we were so busy and so consumed that God was on a back burner for us. That is a long long long story! I loved this word thank you for sharing it and reminding me to keep things in perspective. BTW thanks for visiting y Look post on 5 minute Friday.
    I am going to try to follow you if I can.
    Have a Blessed Weekend.

  4. very good word here, danielle. not only do we have to find balance between ministry that ministers to real needs, we also can't forget that the condition of the heart as a person stands before God is every bit as real of a need. and if that sobering truth doesn't remind me to remain humble? sometimes I find it amazing that God chooses us to be His ambassadors even as we struggle with pride, immoderate-ness (what is the English word for what I'm trying to say there?), lack of proper focus and inconsistency as we tend to swing from one all to the next nothing.

    very good word, this reminder that were not only to act justly, love mercy AND to walk humbly... remembering always that He is the One Who makes it possible.

  5. Thanks everyone for your comments! It definitely is a struggle to remember the most important thing in the midst of all the millions of other things going on, but God is so good to continue to use us!