A family had the habit of treating their children for ice cream after the church service. One Sunday the father decided to break the habit. The children were not happy about it. They started whining. The father decided to use spirituality to deal with the situation. He asked, “Where in the Bible is it said that we should eat immediately after the service?”
The children might have missed the application, but at least they were learning the Bible when they replied, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after Righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Our Bible word of the week is righteousness. Jesus commanded, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness….” (Matt. 6:33).
The word righteous or righteousness is used 146 times in the New Testament, and 431 times in the Old Testament. In a broad sense it refers to the state of a person who is acceptable to God–the doctrine of righteousness.
In a personal way the word may speak of one’s integrity. Virtue. Purity of life. It has to do with rightness or correctness of thinking, feeling and acting in spiritual sense.
Righteousness has at least three aspects:
(1) Moral righteousness. This has to do with the rightness of character. It is conduct that pleases God. The Bible says, “He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.” (1 Jn 3:7). God tells us that character counts. Behavior matters. Actions influence. And they should be based on righteousness.
(2) Social righteousness. This involves a concern for our fellow-man. The Bible often speaks of pleading the case for the fatherless and widows. Jesus condemns those who exploited the weak. The poor. The disenfranchised. When Jesus gave the parable of the Pharisee and Publican who went to pray, Luke precedes it with this observation. “He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Lk. 18:9).
(3) Spiritual Righteousness. The book of Romans says a lot about spiritual righteousness as God’s plan for justification. The fact is we have all have sinned. None is righteous. No, not one! (Rom. 3:11; 23). However, many people are like the people Paul describes, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. (Rom. 10:3). He then tells them that Jesus is the answer! He is our righteousness! And in Him we can receive justification. Be saved from sin. And find righteousness.
In some ways righteousness is a deep, theological subject. But in other ways it is simple. We must admit our sinfulness. Come to Christ. And obey the gospel. You see in it is revealed God’s righteousness.
The apostle Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:16-17)
When we live by God’s righteousness, we will produce the fruit of righteousness (Phil 1:11). The righteous man lives a life of integrity (Prov 20:7). He advocates justice, speaks wisdom, and pleads the cause the downtrodden (Ps. 37:30; Prov. 29:7).
Indeed the old Chinese proverb was right. “If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman