“May your priests be clothed with your righteousness; may your faithful people sing for joy.” – Ps 132:9
Have you ever faced the prospect of being wrong, when you were right? Have you chosen what was “wrong” because at the time, it was right?
As we pursue the goal of Matthew 28:18-20 in evangelizing all the nations in this generation, it is easy for us as disciples of Christ to wear our badges of “righteousness” and become “judges” of those around us. In fact, if we are not careful, the entire chapter of Matthew 23 could be applied to us. Let us look at this subject with sober eyes, ears, and hearts.
Real righteousness, expands more on just being right. Isaiah 30:21 tells us that “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
What do you hear?
Hosea 14:9 reads, “Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”
We have to be willing at the heart-level, to hear and listen to the words of God. What is his Spirit telling you?
Has your soul been pricked when you observed a need, and didn’t respond?
You knew something was going on, and you should have said “something” but didn’t want to. Or may it was the other way around, you should have said nothing, because your response was filled with anger, discord, hatred, bitterness, jealousy, etc.
Maybe it was a critical thought, thinking consistently negatively about others – ignoring the Spirit’s plea to “Stop it.” Romans 1:32 tells us, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Righteousness requires humility.
In Matthew 3:14-15 Jesus comes to John to be baptized, and persuades him to do so in order to fulfill all righteousness. John mindset was humble, saying “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus called “John the Baptist” the Greatest Prophet. Do we consistently treat those in our lives with this degree of humility?
How do we characteristically respond (inwardly or outwardly) when someone strikes us (verbally or physically)? Jesus calls us higher, especially in our hearts in Matthew 5:39, to not resist an evil person, but rather to embrace them and to “turn them the other cheek also.” This thought is echoed by Paul in Romans 12:17, “Do not repay anyone for evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.”
Righteousness requires turning away from sin.
In Proverbs 11:6 we learn, “The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.” In Genesis 4:7 God tells Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Ever feel stuck spiritually. Chances are, there is hidden sin (at least to everyone else, chances are you know EXACTLY what is not right) in your life, but God is not fooled. He is forever patient and will lovingly hold you in a single place – forcing you to deal with an unresolved matter. If we approach God with humility of heart – he is quick to forgive, quick to love, and slow to become angry.
Luke 5:32 gives us a short but effective call to action. Jesus says, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” As priests (1 Peter 2:9), disciples of Christ, that is exactly what we do when we share our lives and gospel to those near us.
This call to change (repent) is further shown in Proverbs 15:9 “The Lord detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.”
Righteousness requires discipline, and has substantial benefits.
In pursuing anything, you’ll need a plan, and help. Start with the basics, get input, and the “Go.” Taking no action is a choice, but not a choice that will benefit you or others. Get involved and then you likely see some of these biblical promises become real in your life:
Find love, life, prosperity, and honor (Proverbs 21:21)
- Peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17)
- Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:10)
Righteousness requires re-defining our characters
One of the most challenging scriptures for this author is found in 1 Corinthians 4:12-14. It reads, “We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.”
In order to have a righteous heart, choose to be loving and willing to be wrong – to be righteous.
Let’s practice the example of Jesus as show in 1 Peter 2:23 “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.