As we saw in our last blog post morality is a matter of what God requires: "He has shown you, o man, what is good; / And what does the Lord require of you . . ." (Mic. 6:8; NKJV). But what does God require of us? The text goes on to answer: "But to do justly, / To love mercy, / And to walk humbly with your God."
"To do justly" (literally, "to do justice") strictly speaking has to do with the actions of a judge. Specifically we are to provide each person with his due and condemn no one wrongly. Everyone is to be treated fairly in accordance with the law. In a very broad sense it involves the way all of us treat each other. We should do nothing that would in any way harm our neighbor, whether in his person, his property, or his reputation.
But then we are also "to love mercy." The Hebrew word translated "mercy" involves goodness or kindness, especially to those in need. In other words, we ought to have such a care and concern for our fellow human beings that we would respond readily to their need to the extent of our ability.
And then, finally, our text says that we should "walk humbly with [our] God." "Walk" is a common biblical metaphor for the way we live – we walk down a chosen path in life. Thus, to "walk with God" means to live one's life in communion with God and to conduct oneself in accordance with His will. More specifically, we are to walk "humbly" with God, in full recognition of the tremendous disparity that exists between Him and us. He is God – eternal, self-existent, the Creator of heaven and earth. We, on the other hand, are mere creatures of the dust, finite, mortal, here today and gone tomorrow. How could God, so high and lofty, have communion with lowly creatures such as ourselves? The very suggestion boggles the imagination. And yet God created us for this very purpose.
|Anthony van Dyke, Family Portrait|
But morality is also partly a matter of what God has ordained for us as creatures. The reason that homosexuality is wrong is that it violates God's intention when He created us as sexual beings. We are told in Genesis that God said "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him" (Gen. 2:18). Then God created Eve, and the text adds the explanatory comment: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). Adultery, divorce, and a whole list of sexual perversions are condemned in the Bible because they undermine God's purpose for marriage, and are ultimately harmful to society.
Jesus summed it up well when He said that the greatest commandment was to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength" (Dt. 6:5), and that the second greatest is to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev. 19:18).
Related blog posts:
Jesus and the Torah
The Golden Rule