Pursue Righteousness

Proverbs 21:21 “He who pursues righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor.”

The term “Righteousness”, has often been associated with godliness, holiness, or goodness. If someone does something that is considered ‘righteous’ it is considered morally right or justifiable. If someone is found to be righteous they are found to be free of guilt or sin. With so many attributes associated with this quality, traditionally most people just recognize this as a good attribute to have and then try to figure out how to strive after it.

The Word of God not only encourages following after righteousness but strongly emphasizes acquiring this attribute because of the blessing that follows. It seems so important for us to have a better understanding of how to walk in it if we want to live as christians.

My personal journey in understanding what it means to walk faithfully before God was influenced by teachers through the years. It wasn’t until I experienced the effects of righteousness did I begin to understand the magnitude of its importance.

When examining the application of such a godly trait we witness several aspects worth pursuing.

  • The effects of righteousness when practiced.
  • The works of righteousness that define its practice.
  • The fruit of righteousness after it has been practiced.

Effects of Righteousness

Isaiah 32:17 “The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”

Righteousness is a quality that lasts forever.

There are many qualities of life that don’t endure, like joy or sadness. The world can mimic certain qualities that are biblically founded but true righteousness is directly associated with God. In the 1970’s when someone thought something was ‘right on’, they would exclaim “righteous!”, there seems to be no end for the ways the world tries to muddy the waters of understanding.

While Jesus emphasized the importance of pursuing righteousness in His sermon on the mount, He also made it very clear that it should be our priority over seeking things in life.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

God established the standard of what righteousness entails, it is up to us to follow it.

God’s Standard

Many false religions think they can obtain a righteous position by following a prescribed order of conduct.

Romans 3:10 “As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one”

The reality for these false teachers is their efforts will one day be exposed.

For those who desire to know God, righteousness becomes the starting point in the journey.

The encouragement is to pursue righteousness, but to do so means you have to understand where it is found.

When someone accepts the proof that Jesus is Lord and believes in their heart that God raised Him from the dead, righteousness is imparted.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

{A basic understanding by American-Webster says that righteousness is defined by “acting in accord with divine or moral law”(Deut.6:25), Christianity publications say that it is an “attribute that belongs to God, the lawgiver”. This implies the perfection or holiness of God’s nature.}

These definitions can be confusing. On the one hand it is implied that acting according to God’s law is the path while another implies that it is given by God. Is this a contradiction?

The best place to start is by pursuing God, if you draw near to God He will draw near to you.

Works of Righteousness

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Jesus encourages us to not only seek after righteousness but He also reminds us that it belongs to God.

Jesus also gives us a taste of what will happen when you receive righteousness. The world seeks for answers to life and happiness but none can be found. Jesus gives us a simple solution and encourages all to come.

Matthew 5:20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The pursuit of this great endeavor has been encouraged since the beginning of time since you must be deemed righteous for entry into Heaven.

Proverbs 21:3 “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”

Since God greatly values righteousness, we might want to sit up and take notice. Once we have decided to pursue it, the next step is to understand how to walk in it.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Godly perfection is righteousness imparted, it is given to us upon salvation as stated in Philippians 3:9 “and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

The perfection that Jesus demonstrated in life and death demonstrated perfect righteousness by the standard of the law. This righteousness that He attained, made it possible for Him to bear our sins upon the cross. He says, He imparts His righteousness to us when we trust and believe Him, i.e. following Him. His perfection is bestowed upon us and we become acceptable in God the Father eyes. That is true mercy and grace.

1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

We are implored to pursue righteousness in our lives because it is a reflection of God’s character, when we live righteously we reflect our love back to God.

To follow Jesus and accept His gift of grace is where righteousness begins, then we return His love by following the moral law as He did. This is why Jesus describes the summary of the Moral law as being the greatest commandment.

Mark 12:28-31 Now one of the scribes had come up and heard their debate. Noticing how well Jesus had answered them, he asked Him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus replied, “This is the most important: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

The 10 commandments, i.e. the “Moral law”, reflects loving God and loving others, it is at the very core of christendom.

In God’s universe, loving Him looks like loving others. Jesus reflected on this concept extensively in Matthew 25 and then summarized it in verse 40 “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it-to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Fruit of Righteousness

A truly righteous person reacts differently because God has made them different.

When a righteous man falls, he may fall seven times and still get back up, in Psalm 24:16 That man or woman may fail but still return because God gives them the strength. When considering the wicked man or woman who does not know God, when they fall they are brought down by sin because they are not under grace.

A righteous person demonstrates steadfastness.

Wouldn’t you think that if a person who was considered ‘righteous’, fell seven times they would no longer be deemed righteous?

The difference is the path they are pursuing. If I am on the path of righteousness, I am loving Him and others as I go. When I fall I am pursuing my own interests and agenda.

We have to ask ourselves if we are pursuing God’s moral law because we love Him or because were trying to justify ourselves before Him?

False religion is characterized by false works, all who practice them will stand in judgement one day. Those who practice true righteousness are taking God’s standard and living by it, this produces peace and joy the world has never known.

If you know and trust in Christ you can be assured you will be found righteous before Him. If you want to know how to walk in His love, walk in righteousness.

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