“He has shown you, O man, 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.”
In 1917, as the American “Doughboys” were preparing to take their places on the battlefields of France and Belgium, the New York Bible Society asked Theodore Roosevelt to pen a brief message to go with the New Testaments that were to be given to the soldiers. Roosevelt demonstrated his superb character by writing the following:
The teachings of the New Testament are foreshadowed in Micah’s verse: “What more doth the Lord require of thee than to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
Do justice; and therefore fight valiantly against … these nations [that] in this crisis stand for the name of Moloch and Beelzebub on this earth.
Love mercy; treat prisoners well; succor the wounded; treat every woman as if she were your sister; care for the little children; and be tender with the old and helpless.
Walk humbly; you will do so if you study the life and teachings of the Savior. May the God of justice and mercy have you in His keeping.
The most perfect machinery of government will not keep us as a nation from destruction if there is not within us a soul. No abounding material prosperity shall avail us if our spiritual sense atrophy. The foes of our own household shall prevail against us unless there be in our people an inner life which finds its outward expression in a morality not very widely different from that preached by the seers and prophets of Judea when the grandeur that was Greece and the glory that was Rome still lay in the future.
The late President Roosevelt was correct in his assessment. A nation’s survival is intricately connected with the state of its soul, with the condition of its spirituality. Without the compass of an ethical foundation, a society quickly dissolves into chaos and anarchy. The truth of this can be read in a thousand history books: great nations have risen to peaks of supremacy and then have fallen into corrupt chaos because they lost their ethical footing. This fact exposes the final weakness of the concept that it is men who know best how to direct the affairs of their lives.
This past Wednesday night, April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City, a horrible act of carnage was wreaked upon innocents because, it would seem, at least one sadly deluded individual decided to play “god.” This extreme act has grasped our attention so demandingly that we will be haunted by its images for a long time. Let it be so! For not only must we not forget the horror of it, nor the heroics of rescuers, we must also not forget our sense of outrage at such depravity. We need that sense. We need its motivation. For we need to be propelled toward the practice of the righteousness that exalts a nation. We need to be driven back to our dependence on God. The morality preached by the seers and prophets of old – as referred to by Mr. Roosevelt – had one absolute standard: God. Will the foes of our own household prevail against us? No, if there is within us, as a people, an inner life formed by God. If, however, we continue to express a morality, which at best regards God as only relevant when we want Him to be relevant, and at worst, as irrelevant, then our society will continue to decay from the inside out. And we will see more innocents perish.
Yes, we need that sense of outrage that such a crime was committed. Not because we want to harbor bitterness, not because we desire to gain revenge, not because we seek to promote despair, but rather that we might be energized toward being engaged in every truly righteous effort to encourage our neighbors to live in accord with the holy ordinances of God. Let us take to heart the words which God gave to Micah, for in them the prophet has revealed that the security of men and nations depends upon faithful adherence to three principles. [Micah 6:8]
- Frank J Daniels, pulpit minister & teacher