How Micah 6:8 Informs My Faith

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

I recently cited this beautiful verse in Micah in a piece for the Washington Post On Faith panel. I was struck by a commenter on that forum who criticized my interpretation of it and who definitely approached and drew lessons from this text very differently from my way.

Micah 6:8 is a summary of faithful living that I have returned to as a test for Christian behavior since my youth. It challenges both my personal choices and the direction taken by the groups I am part of like church and country. The “you” in Micah’s question can be singular or plural in our language and I apply it to both.

I like the way this verse gives focus to my effort to abide by Jesus’ great commandments: to love God and love my neighbor (Mk 12:28-34, Mt 22:34-40, Lk 10:25-28).

“To walk humbly with God” is one facet of loving God. One facet of walking humbly with God is to know what I am authorized to do and feel, and what actions and emotions better belong to God. For example, Jesus (Mt 7:10), Paul (Romans 7:1) and James (4:12) all warn us not to judge others. Judgment belongs to God. From this stems my own refusal to impose my judgment on others. I certainly have my opinions but humility demands that I leave judgment to God.

Humility before God also demands that I practice the serious ongoing spiritual discipline to love my neighbor by doing justice and loving kindness.

Both Biblical scholars and people in the pew recognize that God’s justice means watching out for the oppressed and poor — redressing the imbalances that come between people in this world. “Doing justice” for me is standing up for those who are considered by others as “less than.” I am obliged to do that and I want my church and my country to do justice in this way as well.

The Psalms are full of thanks for God’s loving kindness. When we love kindness we are living up to the idea that we as humans are made in the image of God. This requires me to be kind to all others as well as to cherish the kindness that I see in others. Kindness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). So, for me, all who show kindness have been blessed by God, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who are kind to others.

I suspect that the person who commented on my use of Micah 6:8 firmly disagrees with my interpretation here as well. However, agreement is not my goal when I share here my understanding of Micah 6:8. Loving, respectful interaction is the goal. So I appreciate that comment for its effort at engagement. I try to understand and to test my thought by his or her point of view. And I invite the same from you all. That’s living by Micah 6:8 as it informs my faith.


 Reverend Janet

2 Responses
  • dot shields on January 21, 2011

    Dear Janet — Where can I read/see your Micah 6:8 interlocutor’s ‘contrary'(?) opinion?

  • Janet Edwards on January 21, 2011

    Dear Dot,

    Thanks for asking!

    At the top of this post you will see a link (“piece” should be colored differently to mark this). Click on that to bring up the Washington Post On Faith answer I wrote.

    At the bottom of my essay come the comments. They are pretty typical in that many make little sense but if you keep scrolling down you will eventually come to a comment that begins with the writer quoting Micah 6:8. That is the one that prompted my reflections here.

    I hope that works. Peace be with you , Janet

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