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What Does The Lord Require Of You?

Isn’t this question from Micah 6:8 (NIV) the same as asking what’s the most important principle in scripture? Or what is it that deepens our relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Or what creates a spiritual journey? As far as I can tell, this is the only time this stark question is asked in scripture. It reverberates with ultimate spiritual import.

The answer can cause one to kneel: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” The gravity of the question in Micah 6 would seem to require scholarly analysis, a summary of numerous passages of scripture, maybe a flow chart. But no. It’s a straightforward answer.

It’s an answer that refers to three things mentioned often in scripture: justice, mercy, humility. Three simple yet wonderfully powerful principles.

As was usual in the days of the prophets, Micah spoke to an Israel that found itself in a state of wretchedness. Evil ruled good. The rich trampled the poor. Pride and greed were dominant forces. Out of such utter sinfulness, Micah said that God didn’t require sacrifices and burnt offerings — no outward show of religious ritual. Rather, he required the moral qualities on which true religion is established.

The beautiful plainness of Micah’s words shouldn’t lead us to believe that God’s requirements are easy. A clear lesson of human history is the difficulty of acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly. But in thinking about what is spiritually important and how we can love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength, it is profoundly moving to realize that God holds out justice, mercy, and humility as requirements for a deep relationship with him.

Toward the end of Micah, he seems to realize God’s graciousness and asks: “Who is a God like you?”

2 comments… add one
  • Ellis Thomas January 12, 2016, 2:41 PM

    Daniel 11:32 says, “He shall reduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” I love the idea of taking action through justice, mercy and humility, especially since we live in a world where often times pride and greed are still dominant forces.

    • John B. Phillips January 15, 2016, 3:16 PM

      Thanks for making this point, Ellis. After thinking about what you wrote, it reminded me that justice, mercy, and humility can sometimes seem like passive things — or, at least, things that the government, big charitable organizations, or churches do (particularly when it comes to justice and mercy). Understanding the answer to “what does the Lord require of you” means that we have to take personal responsibility for justice, mercy, and humility in every aspect of our lives. Not so easily accomplished, but life changing. That’s when justice, mercy, and humility become dominant forces. Thanks again.

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