Justice, Mercy, and Humility

“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?” (Micah 6:8). It is fascinating how easily we can complicate the biblical mandate. As human beings, we create these complex theological systems as we attempt to understand and do the will of an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God. But the command is present and simple—if we are interested in doing what the Lord wants us to do, the tripartite principle is staring us in the face. Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly. The New American Standard Bible gives us words that we might better understand in our modern context—do justice, love kindness, walk humbly. Despite the simplicity of the mandate, we can see the difficulty of actualizing these principles. What does it mean for someone to live out justice, mercy/kindness, and humility?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11664
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I agree, but what to do?

  1. The cities you mention are all run by Democrats. The school systems in our largest cities are all run by them. And have been so for what, 75 years? I think they have to take some responsibility.

  2. What is your answer to all this? More money in those poorer districts? Has it helped at all so far? Has more money poured into those helped ever? My understanding is that public systems pay way more than private ones do per student. Money may help a few, but taking personal responsibility will more.

  3. Unless a young person takes personal responsibility, there is no hope for them. if they have parents that will take responsibility that may also bring them up.

  4. I think that teaching strongly the Success Sequence is their only hope. And if the students would adopt it, they could bless their children with the idea as well.

I am not discounting it, but unless the home is addressed, and personal responsibly is, there is no hope. None. No one is going to help those students. The Dems have not done it, even with being in control for decades. The politicians won’t. Blaming “systemic structural inequalities” won’t help either. Just give you an excuse, make you angry, or make you discouraged.

Teach personal responsibility: school, job, marriage, sex, kids. Take your life in your hands. Won’t solve all the problems, but will give you what you need to face them.

97%, Frank. NINTY-SEVEN PERCENT. Why even bother with anything else?

Sorry Frank, I erased my first post by mistake. This is an answer to your last note to me.

Yes, personal responsibility counts. For sure. It is often diminished today as if it doesn’t.

But, let’s not discount the nature of the playing field. If you were born in Bronxville, NY, and go through their school system, and graduate from their high school, which is one of the top high schools in the country, your higher educational and economic outcomes are likely to be vastly different from the kids a couple miles away attending Mount Vernon public schools. Bronxville is a very wealthy, affluent community, and you can guess what Mount Vernon’s economic profile is. Head a few miles south into the Bronx, and the difference is even more staggering.

Going to school in overcrowded buildings in underfunded school districts, with the specter of violence hanging over one’s school day, and dealing with less than optimal home conditions is going to have a huge impact on educational and economic outcomes. The gulf between such communities and more affluent ones is stark. The playing field isn’t level. The starting lines are vastly different. What is capable of being accessed is disproportionate.

This just can’t be chalked up to taking personal responsibility or the lack thereof. There are systemic, structural inequalities that hold people back like ankle weights in a race that need to be addressed beyond telling people to try harder and pull up their bootstraps.

They can only be pulled so high by most.



Do we have to equate Jesus with lady justice to be good Adventist now? Is God’s justice of this world? Does the blood of Jesus take away racism and poverty and grief from this place and give this world peace? Peace, peace, peace, marvelous peace? We love to see Jesus on the cross, but we must never face our own crucifixion.

And, part of us and the church facing our own crucifixion is to address such issues in the real world…it’s the only one God is addressing. Do justice, as Micah and the prophets called for, is to do it in this world. Righteousness, which means justice, is not an escape into a spiritual existence out of the world, as you seem to think Christ came to bring. That’s a semi gnostic gospel.

Jesus’s entire ministry was to bring healing, hope, peace, and justice to the poor, the sick, and the excluded. It’s what eventually got him into trouble and got him crucified. It wasn’t because he was preaching a gospel that would get people to heaven, it was a gospel that brought heaven to earth, a new way of being human in the image of God, that confronted the powers that be on earth, and their way of doing business. Those powers held death as their final trump card against anything and anyone that threatened their way of ordering human life and society, and Jesus even disarmed that. It is what true justice, mercy, and love does. It is the greatest power, and it is to be lived out here and now. It is what Jesus and the gospel tell us.

It is the same gospel of peace, justice, and inclusive love that we are to bring, and live out as a foretaste of the age to come…when life becomes on earth as it is in heaven…fully.


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Those who love this world and are searching for happiness in it do not want the “peace that passes all understanding.” Instead they look for peace to be written down in the books downtown in city hall, and in congress, and they look for peace on the lips of the supreme court justices of this world and when they do not find it there they are undone. They want the blood of Jesus to wash away their student loan debt, their food stamps, their non-whiteness, their human rights violations, and their political fights. But His blood will not wash away these things. It is eternal fire which is going to cleanse these things away forever and ever.

Jesus gives love and peace on the lips of His disciples. They share it with the bereaved where ever they go. They tell people of a man who loved His enemies as His friends. They heal people miraculously, they raise the dead, they give sight back to the blind, they are pursued and persecuted by all those who love this world all those who want to taste heaven on earth. God does not give a taste of heaven, He only gives a full stomach, a full heart, a full mouth, a full life.

The Word of God says that He did not come to bring peace to this world which condemned Him. Matthew 10:34-36 KJV - Think not that I am come to send peace - Bible Gateway

Again…Say what?? What are you talking about?


No problem, Allen. But, if we’re going to make this a partisan debate, the lowest performing school systems and states overall are red. Start with Mississippi and South Carolina. And Bronxville and Scarsdale are blue…affluent and high performing.

But, I wasn’t thinking in partisan terms. I was simply thinking in terms of playing fields. They are simply vastly uneven. Personal effort, while needed, rarely fully makes up for it, either in red Appalachia, or blue Chicago inner city. Just throwing money hasn’t solved the problems either. They are admittedly complex.

But, the Horatio Alger myth is just that…myth. Personal effort rarely takes people wherever they want to go, no matter what American individualism sells. A society that offers help, remediation on a variety of fronts, when combined with personal effort, can do more. A mixture is needed.

What one of your least favorite people said I believe is true: “It takes a village.” And even more.


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I don’t care if you point out red state problems, have a solution for them too.

But you think the “Success Sequence”. won’t to it. You say personal effect is necessary, but throwing money does not work, but what is really necessary is "remediation on a variety of fronts combined with effort. And it takes a village.

I guess my point is that without personal effort, you are lost. And if those young people will adopt the Success Sequence, they will get out of poverty. 97% chance.

You might find it surprising, but I do not reject the village metaphor, and have been part of church efforts, that is being available to youth and accepting of them, but giving a straight witness: the success sequence, as part of the village.

What else do you have to offer? Systemic Structural Racism? The sequence works fi they will adopt it, and it does not require government aid.

Are poor schools impediments? yes. Is a bad home an impediment? yes. But if you look at all the things that impede you, and not that can help you, you will fail.

I just don’t see your solution as one. And to downplay personal effort is to take away the one thing that can make a real difference when all else is absent. How is Horatio a myth if it works 97% of the time?

What is your solution for the Bronx? I don’t think you have one. Mine works 97% of the time.

I’d pound it home.

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