What's Up With Micah 6:8?

Everyone Took Note Of Him

The old man moved slowly along the sidewalk. He was stooped over and leaning on a battered cane. Strings of scarecrow-like hair poked out from under a battered ballcap that he wore at an odd angle.

The cap seemed to be a prized possession because he kept clutching at it each time the autumn breeze tried to snatch it away. His face was pinched into a permanent grimace. Each step took great effort, as though his joints were in dire need of lubrication, but there was something in his pain-racked shuffle that summoned attention.

In the cluster of office-workers scurrying to and from lunchtime appointments, he stood out. No one actually stopped to speak to him or even paused to give him a smile, but everyone took note of him.

Sadness Personified

The brisk breeze swirling eddies of dust along the avenue suddenly gusted, catching the peak of the old man’s ballcap. It took off like a kite. His mouth wrenched open as his free hand clawed up to grab it, but his arthritic bones could not move fast enough. In his frantic and jerky effort, he almost lost his footing, but then latched onto the cane with both hands to steady his balance.

While he watched the wind do its thing, his eyes echoed a sorrow that emanated from deep inside a canyon of memory. The cap rode a strong current for twenty feet or so, and then came tumbling down in the street to join an assortment of discarded fast-food wrappers and other bits of garbage being swept along the edge of the curb. He went after it in his hunched over stutter-stepping kind of way, but it distanced itself from him in rapidly increasing increments.

We are always rushing to & fro to keep pace with our deadlines & schedules.
We are always rushing to & fro to keep pace with our deadlines & schedules.

A forlorn cry escaped his throat as he tried to hurry.  In his haste he began bumping into people, muttering apologies as he stayed focused on the direction the wind was taking his treasure.  People continued to notice him, but it was as though his distress was invisible.  Despite the old man’s thrashing progress through the crowd, everyone managed to keep pace with his or her deadlines and schedules.

After several blocks of frenzied pursuit, his chest was heaving and beginning to hurt.  Little threads of pain were tightening into a thick, hard knot just behind his breastbone.  His breath was coming in short gasps; his hair was matted with sweat.  He teetered to a faltering stop.  He realized there was no chance of recapturing the ballcap. 

A rasping wheeze of a groan choked out of him as his body sagged in defeat.  His shoulders sank even lower than before.  Tears glistened on his weathered cheeks as he looked into the faces of passing strangers, silently pleading and motioning for help.  It was sadness personified.

Alone In A Crowd

I’d like to tell you that several people responded to his need, rushing forward to comfort him, rallying around him in care and concern.  I’d like to tell you that someone rescued the ballcap and was even now returning it to him along with a word of encouragement and an offer of friendship.  I’d like to tell you that everything worked out fine and the story had a happy ending.  I’d like to tell you all of that and more, but I cannot because none of it happened.

No one came to his assistance; not a single, solitary person reached out with compassion or kindness.  Even though surrounded by many, many eyewitnesses he was utterly alone in his predicament.  Whatever affection or remembrance he had attached to that ragged ballcap became a deep sense of loss that the old man would be left to grieve over all by himself.

A Sparse Commodity

Were there any Christians on the sidewalk that watched the drama unfold without being moved to action? Were they all too busy, too self-absorbed and too preoccupied? Had they perfected the art of pretending not to see?

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, that is tragic. After all, according to Peter in Acts 10:38, Jesus of Nazareth “went around doing good”, which would certainly mean that those who proclaim Christ as Savior and Lord must be about the business of being good deed doers.

Too often kindness is a sparse commodity in our communities and neighborhoods, but for those who follow Christ, routine kindness should be automatic. I wonder why that is not always the case?

Revisiting Micah 6:8

Church is people; living and breathing redeemed individuals. In its quest for holiness, has the church lost sight of the fundamental basics of kindness? Have we become so enthralled by our programs or so consumed by worship wars that we’ve forgotten the profound urgency of kindness? In our desire to be culturally relevant have we forgotten the simple power of kindness?

Oft-times kindness is as profoundly simple as offering a helping hand.
Oft-times kindness is as profoundly simple as offering a helping hand.

Indeed, kindness is profoundly simple and simply profound. Scripture compels us to be actively involved in ongoing adventures of kindness.

In the RSV Micah 6:8 reads: He has showed 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?”

Like many passages of Scripture, we humans have an enormous capacity to complicate the commonsense meaning of words, but kindness is not some linguistic riddle for us to solve. Neither is it a jigsaw puzzle that needs to be pieced together to determine the intent of the verse.

This one is about as straightforward as it gets. It is not an option for believers to apply or disregard. Number two on the top three list of what God requires of his people is for us to love kindness.

In this context, a fair rendering of the concept of mercy or kindness is for us to be vigilant in following through on our commitment to be nice people who care for others. Jesus modeled this verse. He met people at their exact point of need and ministered to them. We are to do likewise.

Bleak Prisons

Micah 6:8 reminds us that believers are to lead by example as first-responders to the ordinary pain of the human condition.

After all, we understand that our world is imprisoned by sin and all its bitter consequences. The effects of sin are completely without mercy or remorse, fashioning a variety of bleak prisons that are much more oppressive and punishing than mere concrete walls and steel bars.

There are all different kinds of prisons.
There are all different kinds of prisons.

If you doubt that or dislike the metaphor, consider those living with Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, cancer or any other debilitating disease; examine the grinding cycles of poverty, hunger, shame or homelessness which can spawn the desperation of drug addiction and substance abuse; think of refugees from ethnic cleansing battles or those trapped in places where terrorism and violence are a way of life; look at the commonplace experience of family break-ups which occur with such frequency as to be accepted as the norm; recognize the universal wasting away of the aging process.

These are thumbnail snapshots of the types of prisons that permeate our world; prisons that must be infiltrated by kindness because they are part and parcel of what it means to be human.

Desperate For Hope

The old man may be alone in his predicament but he is not alone in his loneliness; ultimately the heartache of loneliness is the prison that at one time or another seizes all of us. Seekers, skeptics and believers all yearn for kinship and rapport with others, but increasingly we live in a state of disconnection. Many people fill their lives with noise and busyness in efforts to feed the hunger of loneliness that eats away at their soul.

The examples are endless, which means that the possibilities for ministry are endless. Like the joke about the person who couldn’t see the forest because of the trees, we regularly pray to be used as a vessel of God’s grace, but then race past answers to our prayer because we’re searching for the spectacular opening that we just know God is going to provide.

We have eyes but there are plenty of times when we do not see. I am convinced that on a daily basis each of us misses opportunities to interact with hurting people; opportunities that are as obvious as befriending an old man by retrieving his windblown ballcap.

I am also convinced that by delivering kindness in all different situations and circumstances we generate hope in others; if our sin-imprisoned world is desperate for anything, it is desperate for hope.

Hope Is A Good Thing

The Shawshank Redemption is a gritty and violent portrayal set in a corrupt penal institution.  The movie’s graphic depiction of life in the shadows is not for the faint-hearted or easily offended.

In it a character named Andy Dufresne overcomes the horrors and atrocities of the penitentiary because he has an inner peace and confidence rooted in hope.  In his words:  “Hope is a good thing.  Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”  He understood that hope is a necessity of life; he knew that to live without hope was to be shackled to despair.

Andy Dufresne had gotten hold of some truth there.  And here’s the rest of the truth that Andy Dufresne didn’t quite grasp: Believers possess the greatest hope of all; the hope of glory.

As Paul told his friends at Colosse, the hope of glory is Christ dwelling within us.  A mystery to be sure, yet we live out that hope of glory when we share it with others by intentional acts of kindness.

What’s up with Micah 6:8 is this:  Kindness is the conduit by which we administer hope in the midst of the suffering which sin spreads throughout the world.  We are to be people who demonstrate our love of kindness by freely giving it away; we are to be faithful givers of kindness. 

He has showed 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?”

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Comments 31 comments

kathy brown 7 years ago

this did not begin once upon a time. is it a true story about the old man?


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Kathy - No, it is a fictional happening that I think is illustrative of our collective apathy.

I hope that if I'd eyewitnessed it I'd have taken a moment to retrieve his ballcap & make a new friend.


creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 7 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thank you Ken for that touching and sad metaphor, we all get so wrapped up into oursleves that we sometimes forget to look around. my prayer to God is not to let me get so wrapped up in myself, that I can't see the pain of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you for sharing and for the reminder. you have a blessed day. crativeone59


Destined To Win profile image

Destined To Win 7 years ago

Ken,

I was deeply moved by "What's Up With Micah 6:8." I, like you, hope I would have helped to retrieve his ballcap and been a living expression of Jesus Christ in this 21st century culture. Truly I wept as you so aptly painted the picture of a hurting world and a call to the church to really be who we are called to be - His hands extended. Thank you.


Pebbles002 profile image

Pebbles002 7 years ago from North Hills

Jesus was preaching about repentance, He showed us the true way of repentance is by drinking the Passover bread and drinking the Passover wine.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Destined To Win - Thank you for your positive & encouraging words. Very much appreciated.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Pebbles002 - Thanks for stopping by & sharing your comments. Blessings to you.


allpurposeguru profile image

allpurposeguru 7 years ago from North Carolina

Thanks for posting this story. I suspected it was fictionalized right away, but it is still very convicting. I'm trying to keep my eyes open to what's happening with the people around me. Progress is too slow.


weepingfool 7 years ago

HA! I hadn't even read this one yet when I made the comment on the Rain page. how do you like them apples?


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

allpurposeguru - Thanks for your comments. Yes, progress tends to be too slow, doesn't it?


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

weepingfool - I like them apples. :>)


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 7 years ago from United States

Ken, even though I strive to practice kindness on a daily basis (whether with my family, with strangers, or even acquaintances I'd rather not meet), this reminder was powerful. I know an old man very much like the one in the fiction. He is a wonderful old soul, and very kind...but I can see him in this situation. Even the cap at an odd angle. I won't be forgetting this hub anytime soon. Thanks.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Joy At Home - Thank you for your good comments. Much appreciated. Blessings to you.


sororityhousemom profile image

sororityhousemom 7 years ago from Southeast US

I enjoyed reading this very much. May we all strive to entend kindness to others everyday. Thanks for this blog to remind me of what is really important.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

sororityhousemom - Thank you for stopping by. Blessings & encouragement to you.


Gicky Soriano profile image

Gicky Soriano 7 years ago from California

Justice, kindness and humility before God. Thank you for reminding us that through the divine requirement spelled out in Micah 6:8 we should become neighbor-minded.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

You're welcome, Gicky. Thanks for stopping by & for your good comments.


Brenda Durham 7 years ago

Very thought-provoking. All the hubs of yours that I've read are really good.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you very much, Brenda.


Eaglekiwi profile image

Eaglekiwi 7 years ago from -Oceania

Hi Ken ,We named our youngest son Micah , so this hub naturally caught my eye, lol.

I was pleasantly suprised to not only enjoy but respect your wonderful style in writing.

I look forward to reading more-To your best life!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Eaglekiwi - Thank you for stopping by & sharing encouraging words. Peace & blessings to you.


creationmom profile image

creationmom 6 years ago from Appalachia / North Carolina

I'm still hopping around your hubs...and still discovering more of how like-minded we are. Micah 6:8 is my life verse.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

creationmom - Glad to have you hopping around. Micah 6:8 has always been important/special to me.


Unleashed Victory profile image

Unleashed Victory 5 years ago

Ken, this was really a powerful message that has pricked my spirit. It's beautiful, stirring and compels us to take notice. We're called to show the compassion the world needs to mend and comfort the broken-hearted. Thank you!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Unleashed Victory - You're welcome. Thank you for sharing. Your words are much appreciated. Blessings.


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago

I am a chronic pain sufferer who sometimes has difficulty leaving the house and always has difficulty driving. Those who put themselves out to visit me are doing a great service, and I always appreciate them. Most who do this are Christians. I have friends who are atheists/agnostics, and some are very kind, but I can truly say that most often Christians are the ones who go out of their way. One very kind person brought board games to my house when I was recovering from surgery. This was an unrecorded (until now) act of mercy, greatly valued by God.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

graceomalley - Thank you for stopping in & sharing words of testimony. Peace, blessings & much encouragement to you.


Druid Dude profile image

Druid Dude 5 years ago from West Coast

You make a strong case for all encompassing apostasy. We live in a land where many people habitually overeat, and waste is rampant, while at the same time decrying the hunger and need prevalent in our world. Jesus, himself, was not a christian. It is my feeling that they have wandered further from their root that the Hebrews did. Great hub. Voting it up. Peace


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Druid Dude - Thank you thoughtful words of affirmation & encouragement. Much appreciated. Blessings.


freecampingaussie profile image

freecampingaussie 5 years ago from Southern Spain

Great hub.So many times people don't help and that is so sad . I have just come back from a 3 day convention where people do help each other.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, freecampingaussie. Blessings & much encouragement to you.

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