I remember watching clips of Donald Trump announce his run for the presidency. I remember seeing him put on a red hat that said “Make America Great Again,” a variation of Reagans 1980 slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again.” This message resonated with so many people from the beginning that Donald Trump never once fell behind any of the other Republican candidates during the primary. The election results would demonstrate that enough voters took this slogan to heart – believing that American had fallen from its prominence and needed leadership to help return her to greatness. If there is one thing I’ve learned in my study of history, it is that nothing is new. The prophet Micah had a similar call to the children of Israel nearly 2,700 years ago.
In chapter 6 of his book, the prophet Micah, speaking to Israelites who had long since turned their back to God, rebuked them for their sin but at the same time offered to them a correction to their mistake and a clear path for their return to fellowship with the Creator. The prophet begins chapter 6 by speaking to all the people of Israel, calling out the sins of the nation. Micah then speaks to the individual man and what he must do to make his way back into fellowship with God. Micah says in chapter verse 8:
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.
In this verse, we are given the simplest form of character for God’s picture for masculinity which, when embraced, draws us closer to God and allows us to live a better life. We learn that the Lord requires us to do justly. What does it mean to do justly though? We learn from scripture that justice is simply doing what is right and using your judgement to always side with righteousness (Proverbs 21:15). In other words, God expects us to use our judgement to do right. Always. The first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence speaks to the idea of judgment and justice when it says, “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary…..a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them…” In other words, when you have the ability to do the right thing, you have the responsibility to do the right thing. What brought America onto the world stage was a group of men who knew what justice was and were convicted about exercising their responsibility to do the right thing.
Doing justly might be making things right with a co-worker or spouse. It might be standing up to let an elderly person have your seat in a crowded room. It might mean that when someone at work is spreading slanderous lies about another in the break room, you tell them to stop. It might also mean you recognize someone for their achievements or thank them for their kindness. The list goes on. The point is that when you have the ability to do the right thing, you should embrace it as a responsibility.
I think it is interesting that Micah doesn’t merely say be merciful but rather he tells the man to love mercy. Anyone can show mercy. Sometimes however, people show mercy so they can be seen showing mercy. In other words, the act of showing mercy can done to satisfy an agenda but when someone actually loves mercy, they love it for what it is – an act of grace, love and kindness. I love my children and because I do, I’m always looking for an opportunity to talk about them, buy them something or otherwise demonstrate my love for them. If a man loves mercy, he will always be looking for an opportunity to show it, he loves the idea and wants to demonstrate it whenever and wherever he can. In the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, Christ tells us “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7). When we are men who love mercy, we are drawn closer to our God who takes notice and shows us mercy in return.
WALK HUMBLY WITH GOD
Micah’s message to every man is: “walk humbly with thy God.” This is what things really come down to: every day and every night, we should be remembering that we are the creation and that God is not someone to approach casually. He is a friend that sticketh closer than any brother but He is still God Almighty. He wants a personal relationship with us, not fog machines in our churches or fish symbols on our cars. He wants us to be close enough to him that his Holy Spirit can convict us and he shouldn’t have to compete with our desires for Instagram likes, fashion sense, or our own foolish pride to get us thinking about how he wants us to live. We serve a just God. We will all stand before him some day and be held accountable for everything said and done on this earth. God is not a tyrant. He does not keep us guessing as to what he wants for our lives. He tells us plainly: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Let me break this down to the most basic level: even if you’re not a Bible scholar or you haven’t been a Christian long, understand that God makes things so simple that what he ultimately desires is that you at least know enough about his Majesty; that you fear him for his greatness, justice, power and that you have the desire and will to keep his commandments. If you never write a Christian hymn or author a Christian blog, or join a Christian Facebook group, don’t worry – God wants you to know Him in such a way that you couldn’t possibly consider spending your temporal years on this earth doing anything other than serving Him.
Micah was calling Israel back to God but his call was not a general, almost abstract call that makes for a great campaign slogan. Micah took the issue down to a personal call to the individual man because he knew that the nation of Israel would never return to God unless there was a commitment by each man to draw closer to God individually. America will only be great again when we decide to be great each and every day and what better way to be great but to “do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”