Yael Eckstein | April 21, 2023
He 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. — Micah 6:8
Compassion is one of Judaism’s highest values and this caring concern and empathy for our fellow human beings is considered one of the three distinguishing marks of being Jewish. Enjoy these 11 devotions on this very important concept for Christians and Jews.
What does it mean to love something? I don’t mean this question in a vague way. I mean, what is the actual difference between liking something and loving it? Is it just a matter of degree? I like to think it’s more than that.
I think about this in two ways. First, the things I like are enjoyable; they are pleasant when they come my way. But to love something means that I pursue it. I actively seek it out. The second difference between liking and loving is even deeper. The things and people we love are essential to who we are. They touch us at a deeper level of our selves.
I was thinking about this difference as I read a familiar verse in the Bible and noticed a detail that had previously passed me by. I guess this is what people mean when they say that God showed them something while they’re reading the Bible!
Here’s the verse from the prophet Micah: “He 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.”
The prophet Micah tells us three things that God requires of us. The first is to “act justly.” The last of the three is “to walk humbly.” These are both actions. But the second demand that God makes on us in this verse is a bit strange, “To love mercy.” Why doesn’t the verse tell us to be merciful, or to show mercy? Why are we commanded to “love mercy”?
And then it hit me. There’s a huge difference between loving mercy and being merciful. Mercy is a natural trait of all decent human beings. When we encounter a person in need, someone suffering, the instinctive reaction of any uncorrupted person is to feel compassion and mercy. This is what I call “reactive mercy.” This type of mercy does not need to be commanded.
God wants more from us. He wants us to “love mercy.” In other words, we aren’t supposed to wait until a person or situation worthy of our mercies happens to come our way. He wants us to be proactive, to be aware and on alert at all times to situations that call out for our help. We are to seek out and pursue mercy whenever possible!
Let’s train ourselves to “love mercy” and seek out those in need before they seek us. Join The Fellowship in our mercy-driven love for serving God’s children in need.