Do The Right Thing

The children of God represent a new humanity that rightly reflects the character and teachings of Christ.

We have lost our humanity; that is the state of our world. Since the sin of Adam in the garden of Eden, creation has suffered the effects of sin. Our wickedness had become so great that God decided to start over with Noah and his family (Gen. 6:5-8). But, once again, we find ourselves living in the days of Noah: people are cruel, murderous, heartless, perverse, self-serving, and ignoble.

The Paradox of Progress

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, wrote, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." The Enlightenment was supposed to usher in a period of progress that would solve the world’s problems and create a utopian society. Even the church rode on the train of Romanticism, believing it could usher in the Millennium without its King coming first—post-millennialism. Yet, there were two world wars that led the church to the realization that there can be no paradise on earth without the Creator of the earth.

Thus, human progress became associated with the failures of capitalism, rationalism, empiricism, and every other ism. The response to, or evolution from, the modern period was post-modernism. While it would be against the tenets of post-modernism to define post-modernism, the gist of its ethos is the rejection of the principles of the Enlightenment and the recalibration of truth to be relative and contextual.

Today, there is no such thing as absolute truth—if you disagree with someone else’s truth, then you are intolerant, and whatever rights you think you have cannot infringe upon the rights of others. We have become a society of arrows with no target, edifices with no foundation, and beings with no God.

Three “Rights” of Responsibility

This is the world in which Micah found himself when God called him to prophesy to the nations of Judah and Israel. There was political corruption, spiritual hypocrisy, economic exploitation, and unthinkable violence.
God’s response to a society that had lost its way was to remind the people what their responsibilities were: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 NASB).

Micah provides us with three categories of human responsibility to God and each other.

1. We must do what is right. Justice was never intended to be just-us. In our postmodern world, justice can mean different things to different people, but a biblical understanding of justice is the proper administration of our institutional power.[1] God established institutions to be an instrument for good in society (Rom. 13:1-4). They are to be a restraining force against evil and a corrective force against wickedness.

However, the oppression of the poor and powerless is not justice; it is injustice. But God is calling for those who administer power to do what is right by hiring the best candidate for the job, helping perspective homebuyers live wherever they choose, providing loans to qualified business applicants, and adjudicating legal cases fairly.
2. We must love people right. People may say they love you, but everyone’s love does not look the same. This is why we look to God as the standard for what we should do and how we should do it. He told the children of Judah that He loved them “with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3). God’s love is expressed through His loyalty and compassion for those who are “in a pitiful state.”[2] He descends from His place of power to help those who are powerless.

The Lord expects the same thing from us. When we are able to help someone who is suffering, we are to respond compassionately by helping them in that moment. He instructed the children of Israel to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18) because they were to see themselves in their neighbor. We love our neighbors right by advocating for those who are marginalized, assisting those who are in need, praying for those who are hurting, and protecting those who are vulnerable.  

3. We must live for God right.  The word “walk” in Scripture is sometimes used as a metaphor for our way of living. We know the road we are to walk based upon the Scriptures God has given us. In them, He instructs us what to do and what not to do. They provide us with a pathway for living a blessed and prosperous life in this world. Hence, Micah’s prescription is a call to humility.

Humility is doing what God requires, God’s way. Thomas McComiskey says, it “means to live in conscious fellowship with God, exercising a spirit of humility before him.”[3] Some commentators view Micah’s final statement as the summation and culmination of doing right and loving right.[4] This means that we live right for God by maintaining fellowship with Him and exercising righteousness for Him—using our influence for the good of humanity and caring for those who cannot or will not care for themselves.

Spiritual Enlightenment
Society may have lost its humanity, but we are Spirit-filled humans who have been tasked with being the salt and the light of the earth (Matt. 5:13-16). We are to reflect the character of Christ by living the moral and ethical teachings of Scripture; and we are to shine the light of Christ’s holiness by doing good deeds that bring glory to God. When we do the right thing, we serve as a preserving force of God’s goodness in the earth; and we shine a light on the evils of humanity in the earth.

Rev. Isaac Hayes is an Assistant Pastor at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, Illinois, and author of Men After God’s Heart: 10 Principles of Brotherly Love. He is also a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Follow Rev. Hayes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @RevIsaacHayes.

  [1] Robert D. Culver, “2443 שָׁפַט,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 949.
[2] R. Laird Harris, “698 חסד,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 307.
[3] Thomas E. McComiskey, “Micah,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 7 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 436.
[4] Willem VanGemeren, ed., New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 822.

1 Comment

Deborah Threlkeld - March 4th, 2024 at 9:44am

I am more spiritually enriched, enlighten and encouraged in reading this article