There are a few places in the Bible where we find a concise summary of God’s laws or requirements. Jesus’ two great commandments to love God and man in Matthew 22 is a prime example of such a place. Another famous example comes to us from the Old Testament, Micah 6:8: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”
Unfortunately, the majority of Bible translations do not get this verse right in a key sense. They translate the most important verb, “do” (Hebrew “asah”) as “act.” This translation badly misses the mark and dramatically alters the meaning of his verse. The injunction from God is not directed toward a general action or the conduct of one’s overall life. It is there to impose an obligation upon believers to proactively seek justice and to aggressively speak out against unrighteousness in the pursuit of justice. This was the spirit of the Old Testament prophets, over twenty percent of our Bible.
In fact, the Hebrew word “asah” means “to accomplish, to advance” and even to embody something to the point of becoming that very thing. It means “to act with effect.” God is seemingly not just concerned here with us taking a position, but with a person prevailing in that position in the interest of what is righteous. We find that very thought coming rom the mind of God in the Doctrine of the Pursuit of Righteousness. God tells us that those who actively engage in this pursuit please Him: “He loveth him that followeth after righteousness.” (Proverbs 15:9) This is the Hebrew verb “radaph,” a primitive root whose meaning meaning is “to run after,” “to pursue with vigor,” and “to attend closely.”
The New Testament is not silent on this concept. In 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul instructs the younger Timothy to “follow righteousness.” The verb “follow” is the Greek word “di ko” which is a prolonged and causative form of a primary verb meaning “to pursue, to press forward, to run swiftly after, to seek after eagerly, to persecute.” We can see that the intent there is for Christians to not just express a belief concerning righteousness, but to personally do whatever is necessary and within their power to bring it to bear, and not to take a pass by deferring judgment to God as a default response.
Many Christians today believe that what goes on within a church is the business of the church and to be critical of other Christians is to “hurt the cause of Christ.” This is an absurd, foolish and damnable belief. A pastor is to be “beyond reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2). That is HIS responsibility, not the responsibility of others to remain silent about glaring and damaging flaws they may have themselves observed in his character, conduct or governance in order to “protect his reputation.” Of course there will always be those in the church or in the faith whose loyalties are not to principles but to institutions and individuals are not the least bit reluctant to level charges of “gossip” at those who have poked their sacred cow. (More often than not, I have found that there will be in these instances paychecks, careers, and other benefits involved, not to even mention more often than not a Systematic Theology consisting of a worn out stack of bumper stickers.)
As Christians, we are commanded by God to “PURSUE RIGHTEOUSNESS.” That does not mean checking a box, or nodding the head to convey assent. It means to be merciless, impartial, and doggedly determined in shining the light of truth, cleansing and purity in the dark places where evil and hypocrisy fester. Like Eleazar whose sword stuck to his hand after having courageously done God’s work with it among God’s enemies, we should never let the whining of those supporting corrupt leadership in America’s churches ever slow us down is bringing to bear the noble and magnificent spirit of the Old Testament prophets. Swing the sword like Eleazar. Swing the jawbone like Samson, and pursue righteousness until the stars fall.