Three Action Words

(Photo: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash)

The world we live in is crying out for help and for some common sense and restraint. We all wish for a comeback from the social unrest, the economic downturn and the coronavirus pandemic. We are all eager and looking forward to come back to church to worship God in the church sanctuary. We all miss church and each other.

In the middle of all this, we turn our attention to the words of the prophet Micah (6:6-8). God could not have spelled it out any more clearly. The words of the prophet are crucially important to God. They may look simple, yet they are true and profound to God and to us in every age. 

God, who created us, calls and tells us how He requires us to live and what to do! 

Here is the context of these verses: Micah was a prophet from Jerusalem. He prophesied 800 years before Jesus. He wrote to God’s people to warn them that judgment was coming and to offer forgiveness to all who repented, turned to God, kept His commands and walked in His ways. 

The theme throughout the Book of Micah is of judgment, forgiveness and faithfulness of God to His people. What Micah makes clear in his book is that God hates unjust treatment of others especially the marginalized, the oppressed and the poor. God also hates the injustice, unkindness, unfaithfulness and empty rituals of His people—things that He still hates today. 

Here, Micah tells us what God considers good and that God requires us to “act justly, love kindness and walk humbly with Him.” God requires and delights in a faith that “acts justly, loves kindness and walks humbly with Him.” And when we, as His people, do these things, we are to live and fulfill the purposes God has for us. 

God requires us to “act justly, love kindness and walk humbly with Him.” God does not want us to just think about acting justly or wishing to act justly or wanting to act justly. He requires us to “act justly.” He requires us to do something: to act, to act justly

For God, to act justly is not something we do on an occasion, but something we live out every day. It is part of the fabric of who we are. It is about acting justly

Micah’s understanding of “acting justly” might be a bit different from ours. Micah’s understanding is more than making sure that everything is fair. Micah is talking about “acting justly” that is personal to God. It is from God. It is God’s justice. And because it is God’s justice, it reveals what is in the heart of God. The heart of God calls us to be a just society where everyone belongs, where the neediest are taken care of, where no one goes to bed hungry, where no one is excluded. 

Throughout the Bible we see that God is on the side of and Defender of the marginalized, the oppressed and the poor. God is on the side of the widow, the fatherless and the insignificant! 

The justice Micah is talking about invites us to share what God has given for all people. God’s justice requires us to make sure that not one person is left out in the cold, that not one child dies of hunger and that even that hard-to-love person is not left alone, but loved, cared and included! 

We are all called individually and collectively to do justice for all, all the time. We cannot “act justly” without “loving kindness.” Therefore, Micah’s second requirement is loving kindness. 

What is important here is that Micah urges us toward a significant kind of love, a love that is a way of life. This kind of love reflects God’s commitment to love every one. God loves kindness, because He is true to Himself and that’s why He stays with us every step of the way through every challenging circumstance that comes our way. That’s what is required of us: “To love kindness!” 

When we love kindness, our actions speak louder, because true love – genuine love is not merely words, but action – it is doing something for the other – it is doing something for the marginalized, the oppressed and the poor!

Micah’s third requirement is to “walk humbly with God.” We live in a culture that puts high value on achievement, on having it all, on climbing the ladder of success, on knowing the right people and on pushing the right buttons. We live in a culture that screams: “It is all about me. It is all about my achievements.” But we need to remember what the Bible teaches us. The Bible says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). The Bible warns us to not go with the flow, but swim against it! 

We are created in the image of God: We are special and precious. We are one of a kind! We matter to God! Our lives matter to God! And this is where humility gets tricky. Our only true value comes from God, who created us. It is never about how great I am or how much wealth I accumulated! It is never about how great we are, but about how great God is. Only in humility can we ask in wonder, “Who am I, who are we that God knows us, loves us and cares for us?” Our value is in being God’s; in being created by Him; in being His child. 

Humility is the simple truth about ourselves. It is embracing who we are in God and acknowledging Him in everything. Humility is saying to God, “Thank you, God, that You know what you are doing, because I do not know what I am doing.” This is what we know to be true and it keeps us humble.

God put us here “to act justly, to love kindness and to walk humbly with Him.” 

We never walk alone! Jesus’ last promise to His disciples was: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). With these words, Jesus assures us that He is with us, always! 

We can and need to walk humbly, because we walk with a great God – greater than we can comprehend or imagine. He is ours and we are His, and together, we “walk humbly with Him.”

God requires us “to act justly, to love kindness and to walk humbly with Him.” These three – “act, love and walk” are action words. This threefold vision of God stretches our minds and hearts, and when we really look at it, it is challenging to live it out, put it in action so no one misses it. 

What is clear from Micah is this: It is not enough for us to think about the threefold vision of God or wish to know it, or even to pray about it. We are to live and act upon it, because God requires us to. Therefore, we cannot take it lightly! It is God, who requires us to step out in faith, “act justly, love kindness and walk humbly with Him.” 

Here are five things – five practical steps that we can consider doing, acting upon: 

  1. Believe God put you where you are for a purpose and He wants to use you “to act justly, to love kindness and to walk humbly with Him.” 
  2. Recognize that everything you do matters–every kind word, every approving look, every helping hand, every act done in love–it all matters to God. 
  3. Take personal responsibility. Never think, “It’s not my job” or “what can I do?” or “now is not the right time.” Believe that you can do something for someone, now. 
  4. The beginning of change is awareness. Be informed. Know what’s going on in the world beyond your own front door and be part of the change – take one step at a time! 
  5. In order for things to change, you have to change. We cannot change others. We can only change ourselves and when we change, when we “act justly, love kindness and walk humbly with God”, that changes everything!
Rev. Dr. Avedis Boynerian
Reverend Dr. Avedis Boynerian has been the Senior Minister of the Armenian Memorial (Congregational) Church since October 2003. He had previously served as the Minister to the Armenian Evangelical Martyrs’ Church of Aleppo, Syria. He graduated from the Andover Newton Theological School in 2011 with a Doctor of Ministry.
Rev. Dr. Avedis Boynerian

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