He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8 (NKJV)
Proverbs 29:18 says that where there is no vision, the people perish. Recently I’ve sought the Lord regarding my personal vision and mission statement. I’ve asked myself the questions “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” “What motivates how I live my life every day?” Yes, I love the Lord and want to serve Him, and He says in His word we should do everything to glorify Him (1 Corinthians 10:31). Nevertheless, I’ve realized I needed a clear vision and verse to keep me focused and provide a reminder of what it means to truly walk with the Lord daily.
So why Micah 6:8? First of all, it has the question right in it I’ve been asking God: “What does the Lord require of you?” That’s an important question. At the end of my life, when I leave this earth and stand before my God, I will be held accountable. Did I do what He asked of me? Did I walk the path He placed before me? It’s a sobering thought.
So what does the Lord require of me?
The Lord requires me to do three things: look in, look out, and look up.
To do what the Lord requires–to do justly–I must first look in. To be just is to be honorable, fair, and righteous as well as factual and well founded. So how can I do this daily? First of all, I must recognize I cannot do it on my own. I will never be truly righteous on my own. No one can be. Paul reminds us in Romans 3:9-11 “None is righteous, no not one.” The only true righteous one is God. That is why He sent His Son Jesus into the world to pay the price for my sins. Since I have been justified by faith in Jesus, I have been made righteous before God (see the book of Romans). Isaiah 61:10 states it beautifully: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” I am made righteous through faith in Jesus. Nevertheless, while it is one thing to know my position–my righteousness in Christ–it is another to walk it out. To walk it out I must daily look in and ask God to search me and to know me, to show me those aspects of my character He needs to heal. Like David, I must daily ask God to “search me…and know my heart. Try me and know my anxieties. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23) Once I look inside and clean the inside, the outside will follow, for the fruit comes from the heart (Matthew 15:11). The tree must be healthy for the fruit to be healthy.
Yet even though I may know my position and look inside daily to see what God would require of me, I am not perfect and make mistakes. Therefore, the other aspect of just living is the recognition of injustice and sin–and the willingness to confess these to the Lord. For if I confess my sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive me and “cleanse” me from “all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9) I also must be intentional in this walk. I must walk circumspectly, not as a fool, but as the wise (Ephesians 5:15). I must be sure to “put off” the old me–the unjust, sinful me–and put on the “new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). This new self is one of a renewed mind and renewed mission. Rather than aiming to please myself and man (two things which lead to unjust behavior and attitudes), I must please God–God alone—the only wise one (Romans 16:27).
In addition to looking in, to daily seeking God’s righteousness in my life, I also must look outward. God is the God of justice AND mercy. Psalm 103:8 proclaims, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” God loves truth, yet He is also compassionate. He is just but also forgives. If I am to love mercy as in Micah 6, then I am to show it like God shows it. To whom do I show it? Everyone. Part of what I am accountable for in this life is my relationship with people. He commands the following in John 13:34-35: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Mercy is an aspect of love. Mercy recognizes we are all sinners, and we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Jesus spoke to his disciples a couple times reminding them those who need a physician are those who are sick, not those who are well, and that He desires “…mercy and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:12-13). Jesus didn’t call the righteous but rather the sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:13) Who am I to judge a brother or sister? There is only one judge—and that is God. James addresses this a few times in his letter. In chapter 2 he remarks “mercy triumphs over judgment” (13). In chapter 4 he says the following: “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?”(4:11-12)
So, yes, the Lord requires I daily look in and ask the Holy Spirit to judge MY motives and MY heart, but He does not call me to judge others. What He does require of me as I daily look out is to daily show mercy on His children. God will judge our choices when He returns. Until then, I must daily walk in love. I must love my neighbor as myself.
Finally, and most importantly, the Lord requires “I walk humbly with my God.” He requires I daily look up to Him. To possess humility is not a demeaning characteristic; it doesn’t put me down. Rather, it raises God up. It doesn’t deny abilities and talents and giftings; it places the recognition for them in the proper place. God alone deserves the glory, the honor, and the praise. Who am I as the created one to place myself in a higher position than the One who spoke me into being? To walk humbly with my God is to walk on my knees daily in honor of Him. It is to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It is taking my eyes off the affairs of this world and placing my eyes on Him. I am a soldier in His army; my mission is to please the One who enlisted me–to please God (2 Timothy 2:4).
God exemplifies humility through Jesus. Paul speaks of humility in his letter to the Philippians: “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:1-11). To walk humbly with my God is to daily place myself at the foot of the cross and proclaim, “Not my will but yours be done.”
What I also love about this passage in Philippians is it not only gives an example of humility, but also it ties together all three aspects of Micah 6:8. Paul encourages us to be “like-minded” in our display of affection and mercy (look out) while not neglecting “our own interests” (look in). And this all ties in to living our lives in humility like Jesus (look up).
So what is my personal mission statement? What does the Lord require of me? The Lord is calling me to a three-fold mission. I am to look in by searching my heart through His eyes and confessing those aspects of my character which do not align with His character. I am to look out through the eyes of mercy on those around me. I am to be in relationship with His children, seeking to show His love in my words, thoughts, and actions. And I am to continually look up to the author and finisher of my faith. I am to daily take up my cross and follow Him with full assurance that He who promised is faithful.