The Power of Humility

Micah 6:8  8 God 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.

1 Peter 5:5b-6 All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

  1. We have just about finished the 2022 elections. We are keenly aware of the divisions that are plaguing our country. The increased lack of civil discourse has made many people reluctant to be able to offer differing opinions on topics that are dear to themselves. This has had a polarizing effect upon all of us. We yell, scream and threaten others to show our displeasure.
  2. But what is fascinating, and hopeful, is many of the concessions speeches that were given by the losing candidates – that spoke hopefully of more unity around the very important domestic and political issues that we are facing going forward. Looks like a movement towards being civil toward each other.
  3. There is a glimmer of hope!
  4. Micah speaks boldly and clearly to the Israelites about their significant drifting away from God’s love and grace. In Micah’s time, the Israeli nation had fallen into self-absorbing lifestyles and had drifted away from a faithful worship of God. Sound familiar?
  5. As we saw and heard the past several weeks, on our altar is a copy of Rodin’s famous carving “Two Hands.” In the museum in Philadelphia, Ann and I discovered the full-size carving of Two Hands. We were immediately captivated by the impressive carving and the deeper meaning in it. It is represented by two individuals reaching up. It is a powerful representation of what it means to be both human and caring for each other.
  6. We will continue to be working with today’s Scripture Micah 6:8 and the 1 Peter 5:5b-6. Micah provides for us not only a picture of what God requires of us, but it also provides for us a roadmap toward building the kingdom of Heaven here on earth.
    1. One cannot learn about or follow Jesus and not see the importance of justice, humility, mercy, and love.
    1. It was evident throughout Jesus’ entire life.
    1. It should be for us as well.
  7. In an increasingly polarized world, we are using the Micah 6:8 lens in order that we might discover our commonality. Hopefully, this series will help model what it means to love one another while valuing our differences. Remember: we may not like the person, but we are called to love the person And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
  • On October 23rd, we worked with judgement: Justice – To act justly is to live with a sense of right and wrong, to walk responsibly before God, and protect the needs of the innocent.
    • Justice is defined as, “the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness.”
    • God calls His people to action when it comes to justice, not to sit passively or stay silent when others are being hurt, abused, in need, or feeling helpless.
    • Throughout God’s word, we see constant reminders that God is a just God.
  • And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
  • We all know what mercy is: kindness, compassion, sympathy, gentleness, benevolence, helpfulness. We see it every day and we are grateful.
  • In my search for examples of mercy or kindness, I told this story about theological students at Harvard who were preparing for the ministry.
    • These theological students were taking their final examination on the topic: Kant’s Moral Imperative. (a difficult topic to understand, but simple to put into action as you will hear)
    • The final examination for this class gave the students two hours to write their philosophy with a ten-minute break in the middle. The students wrote furiously for fifty-five minutes. Then the bell rang; the students all took a break and went out into the hallway.
    • There in the hallway was another student, not part of their class, sitting humped up on the floor, disheveled, looking like a mess.
    • The theological students were busy in conversation with each other, getting a drink of water, taking a bathroom break, and into the classroom they returned for the second hour of writing their philosophy of what it meant to be a moral human being.
    • Weeks later, the theological students received their test results: they had all failed. That is, all the students thought that their test was what they wrote for two hours in the classroom.
    • The professor meanwhile was standing out in the hallway during the ten-minute break and grading them on who approached the man humped down on the floor and spoke a kind word. Nobody did.
  • Remember: Jesus told the story about the Good Samaritan. A man was robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. Three people passed safely on the other side of the road. A Jewish priest. A Jewish rabbi. A Samaritan. (a people that was despised and shunned by the Jews). It was only the Samaritan who stopped, knelt and offered to help.
  • To love mercy is to show “lovingkindness” or “loyal love” towards others.
    • Just as God’s character is continually loyal and merciful to us, God calls us to live in this same way, both in our relationships with Him and with others.
    • Essentially mercy is defined as, “showing compassion or forgiveness towards someone instead of punishment or harm.”
  • It’s important to note that this attribute is impossible to do on our own, we desperately need the love of Christ living and breathing in us, through us, to truly understand what it is to “love mercy.” We can be constantly grateful for the gifts of God’s mercy and love covering our lives every single day.
  • The final requirement in Micah 6:8 refers to a very scarce virtue: humility. Its rival is pride, is much more prevalent. How can you walk humbly with God?[1]
  •  The first two things God requires of us in Micah 6:8 are to “do justly” and “love mercy.”  How does this apply to us? Some people may reply: “Well that is me. I’m the most just, fair, forgiving, merciful and all-around amazing person I know.”
  • But something is missing in this answer: humility. It is a quality as scarce as it is abused.
  • We often see it abused by politicians when they “humbly accept” nominations and elections, but then go on to describe how much better they are than the other candidates.
  • Walking humbly with God is perhaps the most difficult requirement in the list simply because it puts God in direct competition with a fierce and unrelenting competitor: me, myself, and I. — it’s our pride. Remember – “Pride goes before fall.”
    • God is the center of the world, not us
  • Walking humbly with God is impossible if we don’t acknowledge that God is the Almighty, All-knowing and Eternal God, while we are a weak combination of blood, flesh and bone. This doesn’t mean we should think of ourselves as worthless, but it should make us ask the question that King David asked: Psalm 8: 3. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place“4 What is a human that You are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4).
  • David realized his own insignificance as he gazed out at the vastness of space and was humbled by it. We have to realize our relative insignificance and dependence on the God who made everything, knows everything and has a plan for everything. God is absolute perfection, while we make mistakes (some big, some small) daily. Seeing ourselves in comparison with God is essential to walking humbly with God.
  • But pride has trouble with this. Pride makes us think of ourselves as the best, smartest, and most spiritual flesh, dust, and blood on the planet—or at least better than other bags of flesh, dust and blood. We all must overcome this tendency toward pride and instead see ourselves as the frail, weak human beings we are.
  • But we also must be balanced. Though God doesn’t want us to be prideful, He doesn’t want us to feel worthless either. We should try to strike the proper balance between realizing our weaknesses and trying to grow and fulfill our God-given potential to move toward perfection (Hebrews 6:1).
  • Why is this a requirement?
  • Take a look at the second Scripture reading for today: 1 Peter 5:5b-6 All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
  • Pride is a repugnance to God (Proverbs 16:5; 6:16-17). God understands pride’s destructive capabilities because God saw what it did to Lucifer—transforming him from a beautiful angelic servant into a corrupted, evil enemy of God and His servants (1 Timothy 3:6). Just as pride led to Lucifer’s fall, it can lead to our fall and destruction (Proverbs 16:18).
  • God loves us, and God doesn’t want to see us destroy ourselves with pride.
  • How can we make sure we’re fulfilling this requirement?
  • Be open and honest about weaknesses (fight vanity). This doesn’t mean we have to share every weakness of our lives with others, but it does mean we should avoid the temptation to make ourselves appear better than others. For example, do we use Facebook and social media to make ourselves look unrealistically better than we are? Do we try to cover up our weaknesses and imperfections so that nobody would ever know we are fallible human beings?
  • Since we are imperfect human beings and we do make mistakes, we should be comfortable saying these three simple words: I was wrong. Taking a stiff-necked and stubborn approach to our own wrong actions and thinking actually hurts us, because it often causes us to lose credibility with others. Having the ability to admit wrong and say I’m sorry—especially to God through regular repentance of our sins—is essential to walking humbly with our God.
  • Walking humbly is the perfect ending to this short list of godly requirements recorded in Micah 6:8. In order to heed God’s command to be “just” and show “mercy,” we must be humble. Humility is needed to practice justice because we rely on God’s law and goodness as our standard—not ourselves. Humility is needed to show mercy when we are wronged, because we recognize we have also wronged and offended others.
  • Walking humbly with God is the essential glue keeping the requirements together.
  • Micah 6:8  8 God 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.
  • Sing – Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord FWS2131

Thanks be to God


[1] Fill in the reference