He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
- Micah 6:8, NRSV
Recently, I heard an excellent sermon on YouTube by Princeton seminary president Craig Barnes. (www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=DoLBnYqDNW4) He focused on the words above, particularly the phrase ". . . to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." In the Bible, justice is always about setting things right - the way God meant them to be. According to Micah, from God's perspective justice must be done with kindness and humility. From my experience, talking about justice is hard and doing justice is even harder. However, doing these the most effective way (God's way) also includes how we do them -- with kindness and humility.
I realize that when we have experienced injustice ourselves or we see it done to others, it hurts and it can make us angry -- that is both understandable and very human. But if our ultimate goal is to actually bring about justice, then kindness and humility are required. Conversely, if we are seeking justice, but express that in ways that are unkind or even arrogant, we may prevent the very thing we're trying to accomplish. Again, I realize this is very hard to do. It takes a certain amount of maturity, restraint, and an awareness of the larger goal. I also believe it takes a certain amount of grace and strength that comes from God.
Jesus compares it to "turning the other cheek" after being struck in the face. After his arrest, Jesus even modeled this for us. Someone who modeled this for us in our day in time was the late John Lewis. He spent his whole life advocating for justice -- particularly for those who needed it most. Lewis learned this as a young man from Martin Luther King, Jr. King learned it from Jesus and Gandhi. After Lewis' recent death, there were many stories and videos of Lewis throughout his years of service in the Congress. He was not afraid to get into "good trouble" as he called it, in order to bring about needed change. But he always did this with kindness and humility. May we all learn from his example.