What Does God Require of You? Love Mercy
The second of God’s requirements for mankind listed in Micah 6:8 is for us to love mercy. How do we do this when we are also supposed to be just and fair?
After instructing us to “do justly,” God tells us the next thing He requires of us: “to love mercy” (Micah 6:8).
So now we are required to do what may seem like the opposite of what is just and fair. We are expected to opt for mercy.
To illustrate, think about the following examples. Who would you prefer to see receive justice? Who should receive mercy?
- Someone insults me behind my back at work, and I can get him or her fired for it.
- I insult someone behind his or her back at work, and he or she can get me fired for it.
For option B, it is much easier for us to quickly say, “I’d definitely like to see mercy in that case!” For option A, it is much easier to take the “just and fair judgment” approach. God, however, wants us to think in a different way. He wants us to show mercy to others while making sure we are doing what is just and fair.
The merciful shall be shown mercy
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
Mercy can be defined in many ways, but at its core it is forgiveness. Forgiving people of wrongs against us is one of the central themes of Jesus Christ’s teachings about human relationships.
Forgiving people of wrongs against us is one of the central themes of Jesus Christ’s teachings about human relationships.
In Matthew 6:12 Christ’s example of how to pray includes asking God to “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Then in 14, He states that the two are dependent on each other. If we want to be forgiven by God, we must forgive others.
But does mercy mean that justice and fairness just get thrown out? Not at all. Recognizing that justice and fairness have been violated is necessary before mercy and forgiveness can even be practiced. In God’s great mercy, He gives everyone time to repent (Revelation 2:21), but those unwilling to accept that mercy and strive to change won’t be allowed to ruin other people’s lives forever. When mercy and forgiveness are continually and contemptuously ignored, then at some point the check is due.
Loving mercy, however, means we don’t want that check to come due on anyone. We should want all to repent of being unjust and unfair, just as God does (2 Peter 3:9). Loving mercy also gives us amazing peace of mind knowing that we are forgiven by God.
Why is this a requirement?
“Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
As with doing justly, mercy is another requirement simply because it is a character trait of God: He is merciful. Instead of carrying out the just and fair punishment for our sins (death), God mercifully sent His Son to take that just and fair punishment onto Himself. Mercy is what caused that amazing and powerful sacrifice.
Mercy is a requirement because God wants the same mercy He abundantly gives to us to show up in our interactions with others. As human beings who make lots of mistakes and do things unjustly and unfairly, we desperately need mercy and forgiveness.
How can we make sure we’re fulfilling this requirement?
- Let God do the avenging while we practice mercy. Loving mercy is trusting that unfair and unjust things that happen will be rectified, since vengeance belongs to God (Psalm 94:1; Hebrews 10:30). This doesn’t mean we always sit idly and do nothing while unjust things happen, but it does mean that mercy should be our go-to response, not vengeance. We are to love our enemies, not get even with them. Loving mercy means trusting in God’s perfect justice and mercy—since He knows every situation and person many times better than we do. We mercifully trust Him to deal with people in the best way possible.
- Continue showing mercy even when none is shown to us. When He was being crucified, Jesus stopped His followers from violently protecting Him and asked God to forgive those who were crucifying Him (Luke 23:34). It is helpful to look at every human being we come into contact with as someone who needs mercy just as much as we do. Aren’t all of us thankful that God doesn’t deal with us according to our sins and what we deserve (Psalm 103:10)? Instead of focusing on what others deserve, our time is better spent being appreciative to God for His mercy toward us.
Loving mercy when all we want to do is settle the score is just as challenging as consistently doing what is just and fair. However, the Bible never says God’s requirements are simple and easy.