Each year I pick a theme verse for our Fellowship family.
For 2020, I chose Hosea 12:6 (NIV): “But you must return to your God, maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.”
Last week I introduced this verse to you, reminding us how the Kingdom values of justice, mercy and humility actually direct our daily lives.
What makes them special? Why might God reduce his “Kingdom values” to these three? They really are not a list, but a system by which we live our lives. What are the three?
- Justice (Hebrew=Mishpat). This is the idea of rectitude or virtue, someone’s moral virtue. Rectitude describes a person’s right living, correct judgement, and making fair choices. It describes a person who displays consistent integrity. Justice is the collective effect that naturally occurs when many people choose to live virtuous lives of integrity.
- Mercy (Hebrew=Chesed). This is a rich word packed with meaning, and most often translated in the Old Testament as “loving kindness” (newer Bible translations) or “grace” (older Bible translations). The word also alludes to a “steadfast devotion” or “loyalty” or a “covenantal love.” Chesed describes the spirit in which we are to administer justice.
- Humility. This third Kingdom value is stated in Micah 6:8. I Peter 5:5 tells us to “clothe ourselves with humility,” which is an act of our will! Hosea 12:6 mentions “waiting,” while Matthew 23:23 mentions “faithfulness.” Both “waiting” and “faithfulness” are virtues closely related to “humility,” in that both relate to our subservient view of ourselves under God. Humility is the prevailing virtue common to all three words.
A brief peek into Matthew 9 helps us to see these three Kingdom values in action. What does the Gospel in action really look like? What might a church on mission seek to emphasize and prioritize in the allocation of its time, talent, and treasure? If a church is serious about Gospel advance in its community, region, and beyond, what might it look like? What would it be doing?
In Matthew 9:35-36, we learn that Jesus visited a city where he was teaching and preaching:
“Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
The first thing Matthew tells us is, “He saw” and “felt great pity.” What do we see when we look at our city? Jesus SAW people without a “Shepherd.”
The people had “problems”, a word that the NIV translates as “harassed,” which is a koine Greek word that literally means “to be skinned,” an incredibly violent word. Jesus describes these people as needing help, or “helpless”, a word that literally means “to be thrown down,” once again a violent description of how we should see people! Amidst this violent description, Jesus’ response was “pity” or, as the NIV says, “He had compassion on them.” Again, this word’s literal definition is akin to our word for “guts”, coming from the Greek word that translates as “spleen” in English.
What Jesus saw caused his guts to be upset. He empathized and he felt their hurt. Broken by their brokenness, Jesus moves and prays for the workers of the Gospel to also show pity and compassion. But he also prayed that they would take action: “So pray to the Lord…ask him to send out more workers into his fields.” (Matthew 9:38)
Christ was moved, and the result was a movement!
In 2020, together let’s “return to (our) God, maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.” Hosea 12:6 (NIV)