Justice and Mercy

Do not be daunted

By the enormity

Of the world’s grief.

Do justly, now.

Love mercy, now.

Walk humbly, now.

You are not obligated

To complete the work,

But neither are you free

To abandon it.

From the Jewish Talmud

This saying is taken from the Jewish Talmud, which is, briefly, a collection of writings that date from 200 to 500 AD. The Talmuds are the main texts for rabbinic Judaism, and grant the primary sources of Jewish law, theology, history, ethics, and folklore. These texts have been a large part of Jewish culture up until the recent, modern years.

I really like the saying, above, because it is taken from one of my favorite Old Testament passages, Micah 6:8:  “He has shown you, [people], what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” This statement has been called the “gospel of the OT,” meaning that it provides a summation of the proper, gracious relationship between humanity and God. It certainly applies to us today as much as it did to the Israelite people in Micah’s day (probably between 700 and 650 BC).

What I like about the Talmud saying is that it challenges us to act now, and not wait for someone else to solve the problems of society later. It is not daunting, because it reminds us that we cannot change the world all by ourselves. In a world filled with grief, confusion, conflict and deceit, it is comforting to know that Someone else is with us in our work to bring about less self-centeredness, and more mercy and justice. If each one of us did just a little more kindness, showed a little more selflessness, and a little more mercy toward others, the world would be a better place.

In the New Testament, Paul told the people in Philippi: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Php 4:8-9).

Can we do that? Does the daily media allow us to think on positive things? How do we “put into practice” humility, true justice and loving-kindness in our culture today? What actions or behavior demonstrates a commitment to compassion, even in times of suffering? Who have you learned from, who has been a model or an example to you, of the qualities Paul mentioned?

Thanks for sharing — shalom!

Author: Judy

Christian educator, writer, specializing in the New Testament

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