Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly

We are now four days into the new year of 2023. Have you made any New Year’s resolutions yet? You know the kind of resolutions–lose “X” number of pounds, diet, exercise, etc., and mostly the type of resolutions that “bite the dust” before the end of January.

This morning I read a verse in today’s “Devotion for Today” in one of the daily email devotions I receive, and I realized as I read this verse that it gives us three very good resolutions to consider for this new year. And you don’t have to lose weight, diet, give up chocolate, or exercise to consider them. The verse is found in Micah 6:8 (NIV):

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

There they are–three very good resolutions to consider: (1) Act justly, (2) love mercy, (3) walk humbly. So what does each of these mean?

In answer to the question of the meaning of Micah 6:8, give us the following answer:

One of the most popular verses among both Jews and Christians promoting social justice is Micah 6:8. It reads, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Many desire to know more about what this inspiring verse teaches on the issues of justice, mercy, and humility.

Micah 6 involves an imaginary conversation between the Lord and Israel. In verses 1-5 the Lord introduces His case against the disobedient people of Israel. Verses 6-7 record Israel’s response as a series of questions beginning with, “With what shall I come to the Lord?” (Micah 6:6).

Israel’s focus is on their external religious rites, and their questions show a progression from lesser to greater. First, they ask if God would be satisfied with burnt offerings of year-old calves (Micah 6:6b), offerings required in the Law of Moses. Second, they ask if they should bring “thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil” (Micah 6:7a). This is the rhetoric of hyperbole; such an offering could only be made by someone extremely wealthy or by the larger community of God’s people. Third, they ask whether they should offer their firstborn sons as a sacrifice for God. Would that be enough to cover their sin? Would God be pleased with them then?

Verse 8 follows with God’s answer, rooted in the Law of Moses: “He has told you, O man, what is good.” In other words, Israel should already have known the answer to their questions. God then says that He did not need or desire their religious rites, sacrifices, or oblations. Instead, the Lord sought Israel’s justice, mercy, and humility.

The answer to Israel’s sin problem was not more numerous or more painful sacrifices. The answer was something much deeper than any religious observance: they needed a change of heart. Without the heart, Israel’s conformity to the Law was nothing more than hypocrisy. Other prophets tried to communicate a similar message (Isaiah 1:14Hosea 6:6Amos 5:21). Unfortunately, God’s people were slow to heed the message (Matthew 12:7).

“Act justly” would have been understood by Micah’s audience as living with a sense of right and wrong. In particular, the judicial courts had a responsibility to provide equity and protect the innocent. Injustice was a problem in Israel at that time (Micah 2:1-23:1-36:11).

“Love mercy” contains the Hebrew word “hesed” which means “loyal love” or “loving-kindness.” Along with justice, Israel was to provide mercy. Both justice and mercy are foundational to God’s character (Psalm 89:14). God expected His people to show love to their fellow man and to be loyal in their love toward Him, just as He had been loyal to them (Micah 2:8-93:10-116:12).

“Walk humbly” is a description of the heart’s attitude toward God. God’s people depend on Him rather than their own abilities (Micah 2:3). Instead of taking pride in what we bring to God, we humbly recognize that no amount of personal sacrifice can replace a heart committed to justice and love. Israel’s rhetorical questions had a three-part progression, and verse 8 contains a similar progression. The response of a godly heart is outward (do justice), inward (love mercy), and upward (walk humbly).

The message of Micah is still pertinent today. Religious rites, no matter how extravagant, can never compensate for a lack of love (1 Corinthians 13:3). External compliance to rules is not as valuable in God’s eyes as a humble heart that simply does what is right. God’s people today will continue to desire justice, mercy, and humility before the Lord. (Quote source here.)

Let’s take a closer look at each of these three requirements.

Act Justly

In an article published titled, Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly: What Does It Mean?” by Suzanne Benner,  author of two books and contributor on, she writes:

These familiar words help to explain what acting justly means:

    • Impartial. As disciples of Jesus, acting justly means making fair decisions in our business and personal lives. James instructs us not to show favoritism to beautiful, “important,” or rich people (James 2:1-13). Do I show more courtesy to a well-dressed business woman than I do to a homeless man or a person in drag? God stamped his image on every human being and I acknowledge that truth when I treat all people with dignity.
    • Accurate. Truthful living means I refuse to exaggerate to make myself look better than my actions prove I really am. I deceive only myself when I try to rationalize my decisions or behavior.
    • Lawful. God establishes governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7). He commands me to obey both the rules of the land and of the road, and to respect everyone in authority, regardless of whether or not I agree with him or her politically.
    • Righteous. The Bible provides our moral standard; it defines right and wrong. The words and actions of a person of integrity align with God’s truth. He or she does what is right even when no one is watching—even when it takes more time or costs more money.

Acting justly requires action, not mere talk. Speaking about injustice—abortion, human trafficking, displaced people—may make me appear caring, but words do nothing to ease the pain of those suffering. Biblical justice is never divorced from acts of love and mercy. (Quote source and complete article available at this link.)

Love Mercy

In an article titled, What Does it Look Like to ‘Do Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly Today?” by Britt Mooney, contributor on, he writes:

“Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

We deserved judgment. Condemnation. Every human being has sinned, separated from God (Romans 3:23). We were rebels against the Creator’s authority and awaited His wrath (Eph 2:3).

But God. Those two words are among the most comforting in the scriptures. 

Despite what we deserved, completely justified, God chose to send His Son to provide a way—to BE the way—of reconciliation to the Father (John 14:6). Through Christ, we are born again as children of the Father and citizens of the eternal Kingdom of God (John 3:3-16).

All of this happened because of God’s love. His mercy.

We who have been such recipients of overwhelming mercy, now love mercy (Luke 6:36). In experiencing that undeserved mercy, we don’t seek judgment. Jesus came not to condemn the world but that it would be saved (John 3:17). As His Body, our heart in the Spirit is the same.

Condemnation and destruction will come for those who don’t respond, but we seek to show God’s mercy out of His love in our hearts.

Without our understanding of our desperate need of Him in all things (humility) and the saving power of mercy, we cannot hope to participate in the justice of God. (Quote source and complete article available at this link.)

Walk Humbly

In an article titled, How to Apply Micah 6:8 to Your Life,” by David Kool and Andrew Ryskamp, contributors on, they write:

To “walk humbly with God” is the basis for loving mercy and doing justice. Because of what God has done, we fully invest in healing the world around us through mercy and justice. Cultivating our walk with God provides the power and passion for us to fully engage—it grounds everything else we do.

The “walk” metaphor is used often in Scripture to describe the overall direction one’s life is heading. In Deuteronomy, there are a number of references to walking in the way of the Lord, several psalms refer to a walk being blameless, and 1 John encourages us to walk in the light. This poetic picture envisions a comfortable relationship of presence with God and a life that fits into that path. 

The adverb “humbly” moves us away from arrogance and the egocentric need to always be better than others, to the simple acceptance of the gifts that God has placed within us. The hymnTrust and Obey might come to mind: “When we walk with the Lord in the light of his Word, what a glory he sheds on our way! While we do his good will, he abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey.” (Quote source and complete article available at this link.)

Being humble is at the core of Micah 6:8. In an article titled, 4 Ways to be Humble as Christians,” by the ORBC Family at Oak Ridge Baptist Church, they write:

Humility can be difficult for us to master as Christians. In James 4:10, the Bible tells us to “humble ourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” But how do we humble ourselves, and stay humble as Christians? Let’s dive deeper into this topic.

How do we stay humble as Christians?

There are multiple ways to keep humility in our lives, and some of them involve leaning on others and God for help. Some of it is a mindset change, like being grateful for what God gives you or keeping your pride in check. Finally, we recommend offering yourself grace as you learn to be humble the way God calls us to be. [See article at this link for complete description of each of the four points listed below.]

    1. Be Grateful For What God Gives You
    2. Accept Corrections Gracefully From Others
    3. Be Considerate Towards Others
    4. Follow Jesus’ Teachings

Walking with humility is essential to the Christian life. We encourage you to spend time in the Word so you can learn how to have humility in your life. (Quote source here.)

So, let us consider how we can be all that God would have us to be and to do in 2023 and beyond….

Act justly . . .

Love mercy . . .

And walk humbly . . . .

YouTube Video: “Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly” by Pat Barrett:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here