It is not only the Jewish people who love Micah 6:8 for it’s simple, yet extremely powerful message and instruction of how to live right before the Almighty.
This passage is also a favourite of many Christians (though it appears most of them have never looked very deeply at this verse in its broader context, and in particular at the truth shared in Micah 6:6).
But I do not wish that to detract from my recent, and fresh insight, on this passage that I have loved and very often meditated on over many years.
There are of course many English versions, and as is normal when trying to translate truth from the inspired Hebrew Scriptures into other languages, often something is lost in the translation.
Consider a few of these English versions:
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” – KJV
“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.” – NIV
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – ESV
Quite a few are very similar and appear (as usual) to copy the KJV.
The Complete Jewish Bible (David Stern) is a little different:
“Human being, you have already been told what is good, what Adonai demands of you — no more than to act justly, love grace and walk in purity with your God.” – CJB
The Hebrew word חֶסֶד (chesed) is the word being translated as ‘kindness’ (ESV) and ‘mercy’ (KJV & NIV), and as ‘loving-kindness’ in many other places.
In fact, the word ‘chesed’ which occurs hundreds of times in the Tanakh (The Hebrew Scriptures) is most commonly translated as ‘grace’ throughout the New Testament (for some depth and interesting analysis of this aspect see my article ‘Amazing Grace’ here http://goo.gl/L9HgQo).
But note that if we use the translation ‘loving-kindness’ in particular to help us see the full picture here, we have the injunction that we are called to ‘love loving-kindness’.
We are to love showing and giving grace; to love acting with mercy, to LOVE being kind. We are not to just BE kind, but to LOVE being kind!
Kindness, mercy, grace should be so much a part of our heart that we can’t help practicing this attribute of the Almighty whose image we are made in!
You may ask ‘How do we get this way if we are not already in this place?’ I think part of the answer is to act as if our heart already loves being kind and gracious and full of compassion, and therefore we must do acts of loving kindness. It’s almost like ‘fake it to you make it’.
The more we act this way, the more the neural pathways in our brains will be stimulated to create a new pathway of truth and a new mindset, and a new heart, where we increasingly become ‘lovers of loving-kindness’.
In other words, in living this call we in fact circumcise our own hearts! (Deuteronomy 10:16, Jeremiah 4:4).
Thanks to the Mussar teaching of Alan Morinis in ‘Everyday Holiness: The Spiritual Path of Mussar’ for this insight.