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?”