He has told you, O man, 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? Micah 6:8
The prophet Micah was asking about how to please God in Micah 6. He asked if he should come before God with thousands of animals for burnt offerings or ten thousands of rivers of oil to burn incense as a fragrant offering. In today’s terms we might ask if we should go to church three times a week, become a missionary, or give all of your money to a good cause.
No, the answer is still the same. God gives a picture of His true heart for how we should live in a way that pleases Him. We should pursue justice, to love kindness and to be humble. God’s answer to Israel and to us is today’s verse: pursue justice, love kindness and be humble before God and others.
We find a similar response in Isaiah 58. In that chapter, God told the people of Israel that even though they sought Him daily and even fasted to be religious, it didn’t amount to much. God told them if they really wanted to please Him they should end wickedness, oppression, and injustice, to feed the hungry and take in the homeless.
The justice that we are to pursue isn’t just for ourselves; it is for those who have no voice. It might be for those who don’t have the financial resources to get a good lawyer, or for children and the unborn. God wants us to see others that are not as well off as we are and find ways to help them.
We are not to get confused and to think that ‘social justice’ is the Gospel, as some movements do. But if I live a grace and truth filled, joyful and Jesus centered life–that should make me different. It should make me incredibly generous, and quick to embrace the messy people who have more needs than I can meet. I should be looking for ways to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
My eyes should always be looking outward, not in at my own safe little heterogeneous group or navel gazing at myself. One of my capstone verses is John 10:16 where Jesus says, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold, I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice.”
Micah 6:8 mentions both justice and kindness. Synonyms for kindness are: gentleness, affection, warmth, concern and care. This is a fruit of the Spirit, so as I am walking in the Spirit, kindness should be front and center. That slogan about practicing ‘random acts of kindness’ is kind of funny. Really, we should be practicing ‘intentional and well thought out acts of kindness on a regular basis.’ But that doesn’t make for a good t-shirt slogan.
Finally, God wants us to be humble. It is easier to think about the opposite trait, which is pride. James 4:6 tells us, “God oppose the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” And in Philippians 2:3 Paul writes, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” As Tim Keller said in The Art of Self Forgetfulness, “It’s not that you think less of yourself, it’s that you think of yourself less.” That’s what God is looking for. The thing about humility is that when you achieve it, no one will notice!
If you want to know how to please God, here it is: stand up for someone who can’t speak for him or herself, do an intentional and well thought out act of kindness daily, and make sure you don’t get the credit for it.