Word of the Week: Righteous


Words change their meaning.  Become euphuisms.  Or are highjacked by pop culture to mean something totally different than intended.

There is a classic  scene in 1986 movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” where the Principle, Mr. Ronney, is discussing with his secretary, Grace, the problem of a wise guy who’s been skipping school.

Ronney says, “I don’t trust this kid any further than I can throw him.”  He worries that Ferris Bueller will be a bad influence on the student body and undermine his ability to govern the school

Grace responds, “Well he’s very popular, Ed….They all adore him.  They think he’s a righteous dude.”

Our word of the week is “righteous.”

The urban dictionary uses righteous to mean “cool.”  “Awesome.”  “Exciting.” Or “amazing.”  Ironically, pop culture uses “righteous” to describe “the ultimate of anything, especially sins of pleasure like lust, gluttony and greed.”

The word “righteous” in the Bible, according to Thayer, means “observing divine and human laws; one who is such as he ought to be.”  In a broad sense it describes someone who is “upright, virtuous, keeping the commands of God.”

The Bible calls Jesus “righteous.”  He is identified as “the Righteous Branch” (Jer 23:5).  “The Righteous Servant” (Isa 53:11) And  “The Righteous Judge” (2 Tim. 4:8).

True righteousness originates with God, is exemplified in Jesus Christ, and defined in the Bible.

The ancient patriarch Job raises the rhetorical question, “Can a mortal be more righteous than God?  Can a man be more pure than his Maker?” (4:17).  The Bible declares God’s nature is completely righteous.  His deeds are righteous.  And his judgments are altogether righteous.

Jesus came to show us God.  His character.  His nature.  And his righteousness.  Paul affirmed in his writings that Christ is the epitome of righteousness.  That He revealed righteousness.  And became our righteousness.  (Rom 3:22,26;5:17,21; 1 Cor 1:30; Phil 1:11).  If you want to know what righteousness looks like, look at Jesus!  Read the sermon on the Mount.  Study the life of Christ.  He shows us the way of righteousness.

Righteousness is not vague.  Subjective.  Or subjective to change by modern mores.  The Gospel reveals the righteousness of God (Rom 1:16-17).   To substitute our own standard of righteousness in place of God’s revealed righteousness is disobedience.  And displeasing to God (Rom 10:1-3).

Righteousness has to do with holiness.  Godliness.  Goodness.  The fruit of the Spirit found the lives of faithful Christians (Gal. 5:22-26).

Real righteousness seeks first the Kingdom of God and elevates spiritual interests to a higher priority than material matters. (Matt 6:19-33)

Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are blessed by God.  And enjoy an intimate relationship with the Father (Matt 5:6).

A righteous person aligns his thinking, feeling and acting with God’s will and Word.  He seeks to be like Christ.  He resists unrighteousness. And rejoices in righteousness.  Truth.  And holiness.

Being righteous is not being “a cool dude.”  Violating the laws of God and man. Or engaging in excessive, unbridled moral behavior.

Do you seek closer communion with God?  Do you desire a more intimate walk with Jesus?  Are you seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit?  Is your goal to dwell with God forever?

The Psalmist both asks and answers the question this way.

Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?

Who may dwell in Your holy hill?

He who walks uprightly,

And works righteousness,

  And speaks the truth in his heart.

(Ps 15:1-2)

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

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