“Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever tried to read one of those End User License Agreements you normally just click “accept” and ignore when downloading some program onto your computer? I have. Most are just line after line of legalese that eventually make your eyes go cross. It would be nice if some company would offer a kind of three-point summary of it along with the link to read the full text. EULA’s are bad enough. Have you ever felt that way about the Bible? It sure would be nice to have a summary of all of that, wouldn’t it?
The Law of Moses was a big, complex, rather unwieldy thing. It contained 613 laws that an Israelite was supposed to keep in their entirety if she wanted to be right with God. And over time, teachers of the law began adding layer upon layer of detail to it. This didn’t happen simply because they wanted it to be more complex than it already was. Rather, life happened and situations arose that didn’t quite fit exactly with any particular law so in their attempt to stick with the law as closely as they could, they added caveats designed to make it more keepable. Eventually the caveats and explanations became as important as the original Law and the whole thing got harder.
The average person needed a summary of the whole thing so they had a chance to keep it. The only people who ever came close to keeping all of it—including the caveats—were the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in Jesus’ day. Everybody else just worried about the big picture stuff and didn’t worry about the rest. Of course, they did this understanding that it meant they weren’t really right with God. That’s a tough way to live.
Fortunately, God understood they needed this and on occasion provided it for them. Jesus said that loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself were the two most important commands. If someone could just do those two things they’d be getting the whole right pretty consistently.
Before Jesus, there was Micah. Micah was a prophet in the twilight years of the nation of Judah. He prophesied about the same time as Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea. The people were externally wealthy and doing okay during those years (except during the occasional attack by a regional superpower). The problem was that their insides were rotting from neglecting the heart of the law in their dealings with one another. The poor and vulnerable in particular had it rough during this season which drew the especial ire of God.
Getting blasted by all these different prophets in fairly quick succession would have had some of the people crying, “Hold on a minute! This is all too complex for me to try and keep. I need some kind of summary so I have a chance at getting all of this right.”
In walks Micah 6:8.
I appreciate the almost frustrated sarcasm in Micah’s voice here. He has already told you what He wants. Three things: Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly. If you do these, you’re on the right track.
Now that’s doable, right? Jesus later made it even easier. Love others as He loved us. If we can do that, everything else will fall into place.
When following Jesus feels complicated, keep in mind that it’s a whole lot simpler than it seems. Pursue justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly. Love others like Jesus did. If you get just those few things right, the rest will fall into place.