He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you,
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 (NASB)
But let justice roll down like waters, And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5:24 (NASB)
In this season of discord and disunity, my mind keeps returning to these two verses in the Old Testament. As I pray for God’s mercy on our planet and for His power and grace to soothe the chaos and violence that are rampant in this world it’s becoming clearer that we have not been obedient to His calling.
Micah 6:8 is well known and often quoted. To add again, “Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31 NASB
The second verse is Amos 5:24. “But let justice roll down like waters, And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” This passage was quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King in his letter from Birmingham jail during another time of severe civil and social unrest.
It is striking, is it not, God’s clear and recurrent calls to “love” and “to do justice.” It seems that though He has said these things in His word over again, we somehow just don’t’ seem to get it.
Love seems so easy; but we do so “misuse” that word. He tells us not just to love those who look like us, talk like we do, and believe as we believe. But to love one another. It’s not at all easy to love someone we don’t like. And yet, that’s not only what He told us to do, it’s what He modeled for us!
Justice has somehow become a relative word in our culture, but the Lord has put what is justice into the hearts of each of those that He created in His own image. And we ignore that at our peril. Amos says, “Let justice roll down” upon us.
Either we practice justice in love; or we directly disobey our Maker.