In the last post, we looked at a familiar term from a new angle. What does righteousness mean? How have we understood it, and does our understanding change as we dig deeper into the word of God?
Righteousness, a Multi-Faceted Treasure
As has been our practice for the last couple of weeks, we returned to David’s wisdom from Psalm 119. We can learn much from David’s understanding of God and his passion for God’s word. David’s understanding of righteousness colored the entirety of his life.
As we studied ‘righteousness’ we dug deeper than a lexicon or dictionary. We followed the Psalm 119:160 principle and searched Scripture because the sum of God’s word is truth.
In doing so, we looked at Ezra’s understanding. We also touched on Jeremiah’s understanding. Through the eyes of multiple writers, we saw that besides our traditional understanding of doing right or having right judgments, righteousness also means mercy and faithfulness. Consequently, this fuller, more beautiful picture of righteousness began to emerge.
In this post, we will broaden our understanding of righteousness even further.Through the eyes of multiple writers, we see that besides our traditional understanding of doing right or having right judgments, righteousness also means mercy and faithfulness. Click To Tweet
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Yes, our God is compassionate. Psalm 116:5
David compared God’s righteousness to graciousness and compassion. While most of us think of righteousness as merely ‘being right, ‘living upright,’ or ‘walking purely,’ David expands our understanding to include new ideas—graciousness and compassion.
The Lord is righteous;
He has cut in two the cords of the wicked. Psalm 129:4
Here we have David speaking in terms we are more familiar with—righteous judgment of the wicked. As we saw yesterday, righteousness is and can be judgement. But the same David who wrote this also wrote the previous Psalm. Righteousness includes graciousness and compassion.
The Lord is righteous in all His ways.
And kind in all His deeds. Psalm 145:17
Righteousness is also kindness. Our picture is becoming larger and more vibrant. We now understand that righteousness is judgment for the wicked, but we also know that righteousness is mercy, faithfulness, graciousness, compassion, and kindness.#Righteousness is judgment for the wicked, but we also know that righteousness is #mercy, #faithfulness, #graciousness, #compassion, and #kindness. Click To Tweet
Questions of Justice
Righteous are You, O Lord, that I would plead my case with You;
Indeed I would discuss matters of justice with You:
Why has the way of the wicked prospered?
Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease? Jeremiah 12:1
Through this passage in Jeremiah, we also see that in His righteousness, God is willing to listen to our questions. Righteousness welcomes the questions of a seeking heart and mind. God is not afraid of our questions. Instead, he welcomes them. He is willing to entertain, listen to, and discuss matters of justice with us.
Does this mean we can fall into self-indulgence, asking questions that border on whininess rather than justice? Well, as we see in Job, God didn’t hesitate to take Job to task when Job started to lament his situation.
In our questioning, we mustn’t forget that God is Creator, and we are created. But even as Creator, God desires to listen to us and discuss matters of justice with us. Why? Because he wants to teach us how his justice works. He wants us to understand why he makes the decisions he makes. If we are supposed to look like him, what better way to mimic him than to discuss justice as he would do.Righteousness welcomes the questions of a seeking heart and mind. God is not afraid of our questions. He welcomes them. #faithquestions Click To Tweet
The Lord is righteous;
For I have rebelled against His command;
Hear now, all peoples,
And behold my pain;
My virgins and my young men
Have gone into captivity. Lamentations 1:18
From Lamentations, we hear Jeremiah’s voice again. Notice that this same Jeremiah—the one who spoke of God’s faithfulness, the one who knew he could discuss matters of justice with his Creator—now freely recognized God’s righteousness as discipline.
“Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You.” Daniel 9:7
Notice this contrast and parallel from the book of Daniel: righteousness belongs to God while shame belongs to his people. His people were unfaithful, and what is the parallel? God is faithful. In this context, God’s faithful righteousness is discipline.#Jeremiah—the one who spoke of God's faithfulness, the one who knew he could discuss matters of justice with his Creator—also freely recognized God's righteousness as discipline. Click To Tweet
In the last post, we started with the idea that righteousness is upright. But we are now seeing that the picture of righteousness painted within Scripture is so much bigger than that single definition.
We can only comprehend the entire picture when we start to connect the dots, understand the context, and put things in their right setting. Only then do we realize that God is many things. He is righteous, upright, faithful, gracious, compassionate, kind, just to the wicked, and faithful to the remnant. He is even faithful when that remnant is sinful and broken.
This is a fantastic picture of righteousness, and, as Christians, we have a lot of growing to do to display this type of righteousness. Unfortunately, we tend to display impatience or anger, writing people off when they fall short of our expectations. It takes maturity and growth in Christ to show true righteousness, the type of righteousness that lovingly woos sinful and broken people back to God’s word.We tend to display impatience or anger when people fall short of our expectations. It takes maturity and growth in Christ to show righteousness that woos sinful and broken people back to God's word. Click To Tweet
In what ways does your life reflect the righteousness of God? In what ways do you still need to grow? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.