The I in Community

We tell our children that actions speak louder than words, but this isn’t exactly how we meet the world every day. Especially when words are all we have in our hardest moments, there’s an important balance between the things we say and what we do in our relationships with others.

There’s something funny and beautiful about how life folds in on itself sometimes. 

I first met Cam back in high school. But back when we were teenagers, I was pretty sure Cam was too cool to be my friend. 

Then we both grew up a little bit. And somehow in our late 20s, we ended up living only a few miles away from each other in the same city. What started as a friendly afternoon catchup by the pool has blossomed into one of the most important relationships in my adult life. 

It’s been almost five years, and there are a few things I’ve learned about being Cam’s friend. First, good food is her love language. Second, she is a wizard at making the perfect homemade birthday card. And third, there is no ask too big for Cam. 

Seriously. Need help managing your one-month-old child while your husband is out of town for work and you’re brand new to the whole parenting thing? Cam will show up on your doorstep, good food brimming in a bag over her shoulder. Then she’ll open her arms and simply ask, “What do you need?” 

Cam teaches me daily how to live beside other people. Sure, it takes less effort to blame and clash and claim victory over someone else’s wrongs. But Cam is all about kindness and humility and really good hugs. 

This intentional work is something we hear about again and again in the Bible. The Hebrew prophet Micah knew this to be true more than most—and he had a lot to say about how we should commit to loving each other. 

To Be a Prophet 

As a minor prophet, we don’t know everything about Micah’s life. But we do know that his name in Hebrew means “Who is like God?” And we know he was born into a divided country, one that had lost its focus on the laws and promises passed down to them by God. 

We also know that George Washington, aware of the political tensions rising in a newborn America, quoted Micah 4:4 (“but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid”) when he stepped down from office and retired to his home at Mount Vernon. 

Micah saw the core of his country’s issues being caused by those who abused their wealth and power. This is why his book begins with a poetic description of God’s wrath toward “those who devise wickedness” (2:1). 

Like many prophets before him, Micah’s vocation wasn’t only about predicting the future. Instead, he pointed out specific flaws in the way the citizens of Judea were connecting with each other and then call them back to God.  

We also see this kind of prophetic calling at work when the prophet Jonah was sent to warn the town of Nineveh to change their ways. Joel used a recent plague of bugs to remind the people of Israel to repent and return to the loving arms of God.  

But today, Micah is arguably most famous for one verse near the end of his book (you’ve probably even seen it on a t-shirt or a sign in your aunt’s house), one that reminds Judea’s corrupt leaders how they should work to change their ways: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). 

Do Justice 

There is so much said in these 32 words.  

Our human understanding of justice is messy. We treat justice as a set of rewards and punishments, not as an actual measurement of right or wrong. The word “justice” itself comes from the Latin root for “legal vengeance.” 

God’s understanding of justice moves beyond courtrooms and police officers. Sure, the Hebrew word in Micah 6:8 (mishpat) has the decision of a judge in mind. But God’s first goal in providing a series of laws was to model holistic love and second, to prevent His people from hurting themselves or each other. 

Cam does justice when she works to address food deserts in her area or when she volunteers as a caretaker at her local hospice. 

Because it’s less about who is most good and more about who is most loving. We “do justice” when we work to make a better world for everyone in it, not just the powerful and wealthy that Micah called out. 

Love Kindness 

In other translations, this part of the verse reads “love mercy” or “love faithfulness.” But maybe none of these exactly hit the mark. 

The original Hebrew word “chesed” means “love between people.” This part of the verse is about relationship. The English word “kind” comes from the German origins of “kin”, which is another word for family or close relatives. To love kindness is to love others as if they are part of your family—even the ones you don’t like some days. 

Kindness doesn’t always have to have a physical result. Sure, meal trains and thank you cards are great. But kindness can also begin with self-awareness. When you experience feelings like anger, frustration, or confusion, it’s important to consider how your behaviors impact others. Kindness moves beyond reacting and moves toward intention. 

Once Cam said to me, “I just got off work, and I’m really tired and hungry. Can we hang out tomorrow?” It might not feel like it immediately, but vocalizing her needs saved us both from a hard night of hanging out together. 

This was kindness. 

Walk Humbly 

We tend to think a humble person is someone who finds no value in themselves. They are quiet and put others first because they have no personal pride. They’re the opposite of arrogant, and therefore they give space to others. 

But this is another one of those words I think we’ve contorted. Sure, the Latin origin of “humility” means “small and meek.” But making ourselves smaller doesn’t actually make the world a bigger or better place for others. 

More than once in His ministry, Jesus left His crowd of followers behind to take care of Himself first. Luke writes in his book, “But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (5:15-16). 

Jesus didn’t do this because He was self-centered or thought His needs mattered more than those He came to serve. Instead, He was so comfortable in His own identity that He could name and address His own needs before turning to the care of His followers. Jesus was modest, which comes from the Latin idea of measure and balance. He was humble enough to make space for others, without losing Himself in the process. 

There’s the old cliché about oxygen masks on airplanes. But these ideas are cliché because they’re based on truth. Caring for and working to know ourselves first can help us care for others with humility and modesty. 

Often, Cam’s favorite activity when we hang out these days is going for a walk—“because I really want to hear how you’re doing,” she says. 

This is how we too can walk humbly with our God. 

Do Likewise 

I met a teacher once who had literally taught every grade from pre-K to college. When I asked her the most important lesson she’d learned across her career, she told me, “All humans are exactly the same. We just come in different sizes throughout our lives.” 

We tell our children that actions speak louder than words, but this isn’t exactly how we meet the world every day. Especially when words are all we have in our hardest moments, there’s an important balance between the things we say and what we do in our relationships with others. If we’re not deliberate, justice, kindness, and humility can quickly take a backseat to the big emotions we carry in our small bodies from the time we’re young. 

I’m constantly thankful that Cam’s path has crossed with mine again. Now, we live on opposite sides of the same state and don’t get to see each other as often as I’d like. But we’ve found the perfect halfway hiking spot for meetups—and I know she’ll always pick her phone up whenever I call. Thanks to Cam, I’ve seen the real impact of living out Micah 6:8. I can only hope to shine as much light into the world as she does for others.

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