Micah 3:1-4 (ESV)

And I said: Hear, you heads of Jacob

and rulers of the house of Israel!

Is it not for you to know justice?—

[2] you who hate the good and love the evil,

who tear the skin from off my people

and their flesh from off their bones,

[3] who eat the flesh of my people,

and flay their skin from off them,

and break their bones in pieces

and chop them up like meat in a pot,

like flesh in a cauldron.

[4] Then they will cry to the Lord,

but he will not answer them;

he will hide his face from them at that time,

because they have made their deeds evil.

God is a just God. He is the God of justice. That word usually brings up scenes of punishment and retribution. When we hear of justice we think of God hurting people. This may be in part because we know that we have been so evil that the only just thing is for us to get hurt by Him.

But justice does not only have reference to punishment. It is about fairness. Justice speaks to the need for provision of fairness to the under-privileged. God, through the prophet Micah, takes issue with His people because they do not practise justice in relation to the poor and dispossessed. If they were just, then the under-privileged would have more of the necessities of life provided by those able to assist.

Injustice is turning a blind eye to the needy of society and it is not wrong to plead for justice for them. The punishment that God determines to levy on those who have been willingly ignorant of the needs of the less fortunate is to turn a deaf ear to them (verse 4). If they will not hear the cries of the bottom rung of the society then God will not hear them.

We in evangelicalism are so prone to equate a right standing with God as measured by Bible reading and church involvement that we do not often regard compassion as a mark of true Christianity. But it is. There are those on the opposite end of the spectrum who say the whole Gospel is the giving of aid to the needy. That is palpable nonsense. But compassion is a true mark of the faithful; and it is a true reflection of the heart of God. God has placed us here to worship and part of that worship is being the heart of Jesus to those who cannot help themselves.

And surely, doing justice cannot simply mean throw money at the needy from a distance. Money needs to be thrown. But people need to be interacted with, understood, listened to and responded to. It demands prayer and patience and time and having one’s shibboleths challenged. It means sacrifice and involvement and perhaps even living with and on less for the sake of helping others. It demands much. That is why the people of Micah’s day weren’t doing it. Anyone can help from a distance in a manner that does not make demands. The idolatry that God has seen in them prevents them from focussing on others more than themselves.

To neglect the poor, especially the poor of the household of faith, is an insult to our and their Maker. It is not a small deal. It is a very big deal. It is so big that God says He will not hear the cries of those who do not show love to the under trodden of society.

My prayer life cannot be what it should be if I do not use my energy to help those who suffer in various ways. My prayer life cannot fail when I do. Why do your prayers sometimes feel like they are bouncing off the ceiling? At least consider that it may be because you have not heard the pleas of those who without your help will be completely without resource. Help them – for Jesus sake, help them.