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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is Righteousness Important?

Genesis 15:6   Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness
This simple proclamations is profound beyond my understanding.  I have a hard time processing Abram's simple act of faith and the extremity of its consequence.  He just believed God.  His sacrifices or acts of obedience did not place him in this exalted position, but his belief did.

Let me take this one step further.  This is an accounting term.  In the NIV the word translated as "credited" is "counted" in the KJV.   In accounting terms, when you credit a payment, you take away the debt that has been incurred, and on the other side of the ledger, you add the amount of cash that was received.  God marked Abram's sin account paid because he accepted Abram's faith as equal value to righteousness.

Matthew 5:6   Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Righteousness is not judgment.  Seeking or even being filled with righteousness does not give license to pronounce judgment on others.  Righteousness is its own blessing.  It doesn't make you Superman and it doesn't shield you from temptation.  It puts you in a right relationship to God. 

There are fruits of righteousness.  Things happen as a result of righteousness that don't come any other way.  You have a clear conscience.  You can stand and bear scrutiny.  Your word is sure.

Matthew 17:17-20  In this passage Jesus addresses his disciples as "wicked and perverse."  They had tried to heal a boy, but they couldn't.  They pressed him to explain.  He pointed out that it was not a matter of the size of the disease, but the size of the faith that caused the failure.  Abram had believed God.  Did they believe Jesus?  Do we? 

Righteousness is not a topic that Jesus takes lightly.  We do sometimes.  We neglect it and claim grace to cover us.  We excuse our failures and sins and kick righteousness under the rug.  Jesus is called God's righteousness.  He calls us to be like him in righteousness, to grow into him in faith.  If we are exercising faith, we cannot avoid righteousness.

I heard a preacher say he didn't like to preach about sin.  I don't like to hear my sins deleniated while the congregation silently approves either.  I guess they're not, but I feel the conviction.  I can't see any reason not to preach and teach on the things we know God does approve.  God approves of righteousness.

Matthew 5:10  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

What if your persecution is not because of your righteous behavior or attitude?  Maybe you deserve it.  Sometimes persecution is deserved.  You commit an act that causes others to harrass and torment you.  You consider this persecution, but is the harrassment and torment justified?  Make sure you are faultless before you claim God's involvment.  Remember that Jesus says you will be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven, not that your suffering will be relieved.  Your reward may be reserved for a future time.