When I was a teenager, my brother graduated from college. His first job was at a law firm, helping refugees who had fled their own countries to be granted asylum in the United States. These people were perhaps victims of torture, or in grave danger for political or religious reasons. When my brother graduated, my parents gave him a framed calligraphy print of Micah 6:8: “He has showed you, O man, 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.”
My brother did important work that promoted justice and peace. But when I’ve read Micah 6:8 in the last fifteen years, all I could think about was that I was not defending the cause of besieged refugees, and so maybe I wasn’t acting justly or loving mercy. Reading this verse along with those that come before it gives me a clearer picture of what it means to worship and walk humbly with my God. Micah writes:
With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, 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 6:6-8
In contrast to the complicated list of sacrifices, acting justly and loving mercy are shown as the simple, clear path that God sets before me as I live and worship. What these mean is different for different people. I want the plight of refugees to never be far from my mind, especially in Buffalo, where the refugee population is growing faster than the residential population. But whatever the causes that we work and fight for, justice and mercy are shown primarily in the small things, in daily inclining our hearts toward God in our everyday tasks and interactions.
For me, acting justly means inviting the refugee family that lives in my neighborhood into my home, despite the awkwardness of cultural and language barriers. For me, loving mercy means wishing my husband well on his way out the door in the morning, even when I want to be the one who has a quiet office to go to for the day. And for me, walking humbly with my God means reading my one-year-old son the same books over and over, even when I’m tired of titles like Diggers, My First Steelers Book, and Guess How Much I Love You. Simple worship is everyday faithfulness in the responsibilities and relationships that God has set before me. Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with my God: again and again and again. What does that mean for you?