I walk the hallway of the large mission-minded church and see the pictures of women, children and men from across Central America and East Africa. Interspersed among the colorful images is a series of canvases with the words from the prophet Micah: do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God. It is the iconic verse for mission programs, both short-term and long, wanting to do good in the world.
Israel was in a bad way at the time of Micah, and he told them so. They asked what could be done to right their wrongs and put them in good stead with God once again–burnt offerings, thousands of rams or gifts of the finest oil? Would God demand their first-born? But the prophet reminded them that they already knew what was good–a word harkening back to the Garden of Eden. What God requires of you is justice, mercy and humble walking from here on out.
Doing justice and loving mercy are strong, straightforward instructions. But the charge to walk humbly before God is more enigmatic. My assumption was that this idea of walking humble before God was related to the fear of the Lord so often mentioned elsewhere. Pursue justice and mercy; just keep your head down out of respect for the Lord.
The verse ends flat-footed for me. Perhaps this is why I prefer verses from Amos, Isaiah and Psalms when it comes to the imperatives of justice. They are clear and unambiguous.