“DO JUSTICE LOVE MERCY. ” You may have heard the phrase at a protest rally or church or seen it on a t-shirt or billboard.
You may have heard heated arguments concerning its meaning and application in society.
But where did the phrase “Do Justice Love Mercy” come from, and what does it mean?
“Do Justice Love Mercy” is based on a passage in the Bible, Micah 6:8.
Here is the verse in the New International Version and the English Standard Version of the Bible. (I have added italics and bold type for emphasis.)
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)
“Do Justice Love Mercy” is a combination of the ESV’s “Do Justice” and the NIV’s “Love Mercy.”
What is meant by “Do Justice Love Mercy?
What does “DO JUSTICE LOVE MERCY” mean to the oppressed?
When the oppressed read this passage, they usually consider the systemic inequities based on race, economic power, and influence.
Individuals have accepted plea bargain sentences because they were unable to afford bail or an attorney.
Others serve sentences for crimes they did not commit.
Often individuals who have served their sentence find a world that will not reintegrate them into society and give them a second chance.
What does “DO JUSTICE LOVE MERCY” mean to the Christian?
When Christians read this passage, they typically concentrate on the individual’s relationship to God and others.
Having a clear conscience with God and humanity is of utmost importance.
The Christian will focus on outward actions and avoiding certain behaviors.
They may or may not extend that invitation to others to enter a relationship with God.
The oppressed criticize the church for being so focused on heaven that they neglect the importance of justice on earth.
Christians criticize the social crusader because they overlook or diminish the need for personal salvation.
What does “DO JUSTICE LOVE MERCY” mean to God?
God is both just and merciful simultaneously; it is a reflection of his character and nature.
God calls us to do justice and extend love mercy at the same time.
God calls us to care for the poor and oppressed. Many verses speak to God’s concern for the poor and oppressed and how God will judge the one who perverts justice.
Yet God is merciful as well. None of us truly deserve God’s mercy.
If God offers his mercy and loving-kindness to us, how can we withhold it from others?
We need to support the victim who seeks justice, the individual wrongfully incarcerated, and the guilty in need of redemption.
How do we “Do Justice Love Mercy” without going to one extreme or the other?
The answer is the last part of Micah 6:8 that I will highlight below.
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.
God knows that we are incapable of doing justice and loving mercy without walking humbly with God.
Humility is necessary if we are to “Do Justice Love Mercy.”
Humility invites us to value others, even those who society has branded as undeserving.
Humility invites us to recognizes the limitation of our own strength and efforts.
Humility will recognize that we cannot “Do Justice Love Mercy” on our own. We need a partnership with God and others.
Call to Action.
Examine the tension that you feel with this issue. Do you find yourself unconsciously identifying with one extreme or the other? What steps can you take this week to do justice and love mercy?