Micah 6: 6 – 8
We are aware that God’s judgment will inevitably fall on all mankind, but He will first begin this process appropriately with His people (1 Pet 4:17). After repeated appeals for repentance and obedience failed to reform Israel and Judah during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, Micah addressed them portraying God as their Judge for offences against Him: viz., fraud, theft, greed, debauchery, oppression, hypocrisy, heresy, injustice, extortion, lying, and murder. To God’s people, sin can be subtle, but it is finally ageless and irrational! Nevertheless, the promised desolation was accompanied with a corresponding hope and consolation, as God is Love personified. And to cap it all, a glorious future prophetic perspective is disclosed (2:13; 5:2). God’s appeal for holiness from His people (1 Pet 1:15-16) encompassed a balance between justice and kindness towards all men as each person is sacred in His eyes, coupled with an inward humble walk (Micah 6:8). Job aptly illustrated for us what it meant to be righteous, both inwardly and outwardly congruent, in today’s post-modern world: “I assisted the poor in their need and the orphans who required help. I helped those without hope, and they blessed me. And I caused widows’ hearts to sing for joy. Everything I did was honest. Righteousness covered me like a robe, and I wore justice like a turban. I served as eyes for the blind and feet for the lame. I was a father to the poor and assisted strangers who needed help. I broke the jaws of godless oppressors and plucked their victims from their teeth” (Job 29:11-17). There is nothing passive in Job’s understanding of holiness. God’s law was specifically given to protect the vulnerable and the immigrant among His people, irrespective of their status and condition in life, where its administration was increasingly skewed towards the wealthy and the privileged.
In the Beatitudes (Luke 6:20-23) Jesus reiterated this same counsel to His followers, especially the affluent and complacent, and those too satisfied with themselves (Luke 6:24-36). It is obvious that there are multiple approaches in handling an intrusive incident in ‘turning the other cheek.’ However, the gist of what He meant was not to react with either vindictiveness or total passivity when personal slights came their way, but to view them through the lenses of justice and kindness that would be compatible with their Christian humility. How does one keep faith with this approach? Here is a suggestion: get in touch with one’s anger, determine one’s boundaries, oppose the mistreatment peaceably, speaking firmly the truth with love and kindness, valuing the relationship with a proviso that future abuses ought to cease, forgiving the perpetrator, and if necessary, distancing oneself physically from the abuser.
Jesus emphasized that to love their enemies, to be kind to ungrateful and evil men, and to be merciful to them is to be like their Father (Luke 6:35-36). Our Lord demonstrated this throughout his arrest and trial by affirmatively opposing falsehood, and when He was insulted and physically abused, vengefulness was not His reaction. Christian humility is the transforming realization that at one point we were God’s enemies, as oppositionists and opportunists to His will, but by His amazing grace we find ourselves on the opposite side of the fence from our adversaries. And as we exemplify what this grace means to us, we model its availability to all around us. Invariably, as Christ-like humility is not a natural human trait, its development would be dependent on the depth of our relational walk with our Lord; where the Holy Spirit is given free rein to mould us into His image – no doubt a painful process, but the fruit of the Spirit comes from our ‘being’ in Christ. Is there another way?