“He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
"He has shown you, O man." Whoever among you makes this inquiry, if you think and consider, may perceive that God has already taught you those services that He requires, and what things are the most acceptable to Him.
He teaches us by our own reason, if we will use it. He has also shown us this in his word, in the Law, and in all the revelations He has made to us.
So, in the Law of Moses (Deut. 10:12-13) it is written, “Now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God require of you, but to fear Yahweh your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul, to keep Yahweh’s commandments and statutes, which I command you today for your good?”
And many of the Prophets speak in perfect agreement what is here said in Micah. In Isaiah: “Wash yourselves, make yourself clean. Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil. Learn to do well. Seek justice...” (Isaiah 1:16) And in Hosea: "For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6.)
Therefore what is said had been said before, and often taught, and shown to this people by reason, and by other Prophets and messengers.
"He has shown you what is good," or right, what is in itself reasonable and excellent.
"What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly?" This covers everything that is fair and equal between people, according to the relations they keep, or the obligations they are under to each other.
In our common traffic with others, we are to observe truth in our words, so on all other occasions we are to regard the truth of things, not saying anything falsely to the disparagement of our neighbor, which would be shown an injustice, a most injurious action.
It follows next, "And to love mercy" or goodness. When the duty owed to our neighbor is described as "loving," them both justice and mercy are included in that one word. Here they are mentioned separately, and distinctly. And also elsewhere. "Therefore turn to your God. Keep mercy [kindness] and justice, and wait continually for your God." (Micah 12:6)
Showing mercy is doing no more to others than what we, in the same circumstances, would have others do to us. And not just relieving our own relatives, or friends, but also strangers, when we can.
The last thing in this text said to be required of us is, "to walk humbly with God," or as the Hebrew is, literally, "and to humble yourself to walk with your God." The meaning in general is, "and to resolve to obey all God's commandments, and to continue and persevere in them always, to the end of life."
It is to resolve to worship the true God, and Him alone. In the text it is "Yahweh, your God,” meaning the God who has made us.
We perceive that the holy obedience required of us is of great extent - consisting of justice, mercy and piety.
It can therefore be no very easy thing to be truly religious. It must be a difficult and a high attainment. We have need, as Jesus directs us, to strive, to exert ourselves, and to do our utmost to enter in at the narrow gate. (Matt. 7:13-14)
Let us seriously attend to this representation of true religion, and remember that the things insisted on are absolutely necessary.
(Adapted from a sermon by Rev. Nathaniel Lardner)