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What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
This verse has long been one of the most well-known and loved verses in the Bible. In recent years it’s popularity has grown particularly in social justice circles. One of the biggest reasons people are drawn to it is because of its straightforward approach and memorable flow.
But when things become familiar to us we tend to overlook or forget how they actually apply. I think the Micah 6:8 meaning is powerful and something every follow of Jesus should lean into. This verse has the power to transform our life and faith if we simply follow it.
So let’s dive in to the meaning of Micah 6:8 and see what it means for us today.
The Context Of Micah 6:8
One of the biggest hurdles in understanding Micah 6:8 is learning the context. So many people know what the verse says, but almost no one knows any of the verses surrounding it.
When we ignore the context we run the risk of misinterpreting the verse, or at least miss the beauty and depth it has for us. So before we dive into the meaning of Micah 6:8 let’s look at what lead to these words.
This book was written by the prophet Micah who ministered to the people of the Southern Kingdom. Before Jesus, God’s people were under the Mosaic Covenant. And most of the prophetical books would teach how this covenant worked. If you followed God’s rules you were blessed and if you didn’t you were punished.
Throughout the book of Micah we see him point out how the Israelites had broken this covenant and judgement was coming. In contrast he also promised restoration because of God’s promises.
Here’s how Dr Tom Constable sums up Micah: “The Book of Micah consists of three messages. In each one the theme of judgment is prominent, but there is also mention of restoration and a remnant (Micah 2:12, Micah 4;7, Micah 5:7-8, Micah 7:18). Eventually God would restore the Israelites to a position of world prominence under their Messiah.”
In Micah 6, the chapter we are looking at, we see an imaginary conversation between Israel and God. In Micah 6:1-5 God addresses the disobedient people of Israel. In response we see Israel ask, what shall we do? They want to know how to they can be restored. (Micah 6:6-7)
And this leads us to God’s response to them answering their question. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
The Micah 6:8 Meaning
Now that we know the context we can better understand and learn from the Micah 6:8 meaning. To help us better see how this verse applies to our lives today, I’ve broken it down so we can look at each thing that is mentioned.
What Does The Lord Require Of You?
Remember the context, they have disobeyed God. God has confronted them and in response they are asking what they shall do. How can they be restored?
In Micah 6:6-7 the Israelites are offering all sorts of sacrifices and things they can do to appease God. But these sacrifices are not what God wants.
In fact God has already told them what he wants, what would be good for them when they sin (Deuteronomy 10:12, Deuteronomy 10:18, 1 Samuel 12:24, Hosea 12:6). What he really desires is a behavioral change, a heart change; he wants his people to listen to what he says.
So what should God’s people do? Here’s what God says:
To Act Justly
We tend to equate justice to social justice today because of how prevalent that ideology has become. And there certainly are crossover elements, but we shouldn’t limit what it means to act justly to simply that.
Micah’s audience would have understood this in a broader sense. To act justly was to act morally and live with a proper sense of right and wrong. It carries with it this idea of not just doing what is popular, but going against the grain to do what God says is best.
This applies to how we treat others and how we live when no one is watching. It is to commit yourself to doing what it is morally right in every circumstance.
This requires actions and not mere lip service. Too many say just things with their words, but fail to actually live justly.
God requires his followers to act justly.
To Love Mercy
Both justice and mercy are central to God’s character and you will see both all throughout the Bible. God’s people are expected to show mercy to those around them.
God is a merciful God who has continually poured out his mercy on his people. He doesn’t give us what we deserve but what we desperately need. And in response we are to love mercy.
Our love for God is shown in how we treat those around us. Jesus tells us that the world should recognize us by our love. And this isn’t just to love those who love us, but to love everyone.
I think we have some work to do. The church as a whole right now isn’t exactly known for love. And if you are a Christian it’s our job to fix it; you should love mercy.
To learn more check out: The Powerful Meaning Of John 13:34-35 (love one another as I have loved you)
To Walk Humbly With Your God
The reality is we are all broken and hopeless on our own. We are in desperate need of a savior. The problem is many Christians become prideful and feel they are better than others.
But we should instead be humble. We didn’t earn anything, rather God freely gave it to us. To walk humbly means that we should depend on God rather than our own abilities.
To be humble is to recognize that our own abilities fell short; it was God who brought us to where we are. Therefore we shouldn’t be arrogant and rely on ourselves, but rather we should be humble and rely on God.
Applying The Meaning Of Micah 6:8 To Your Life
Micah 6:8 sums up what our faith should look like. In a powerful and succinct verse we see what should be markers for our faith. The reality is following Jesus isn’t just about our beliefs, but primarily our actions.
So ask yourself, Am I acting justly? Do I love mercy? Am I walking humbly?
These are heart questions that will help us see if we are actively living out our faith. The meaning of Micah 6:8 should spur us to action. Cause us to align our beliefs and how we live. It should challenge us to evaluate how we are treating others. And align our heart with God’s.
If you do this your faith will come alive AND people will come to know what Jesus has done for them. So act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.
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Jeffery Curtis Poor
Husband. Father. Pastor. Church Planter. Writer. Trying to be more like Jesus each day.
BA in Biblical Studies - Ozark Christian College (2012)
MA in Theology - Regent University (2019)
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