Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Quite a lot is said about the righteous man in Scripture, --- and that is comprehensible. Having a right-standing with God is not an option but an imperative, a sine quo non that governs our relationship with the Almighty God, Jehovah. God expects as much as is possible that we do what is righteous in His eyes and always endeavour to hold our heads up high.

He said to his servant Abraham: “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.” (Genesis 17:1b) Righteousness must be a trait among all those whom He has called. Anything short of this characteristic will lead to a breakdown in communications and an end to the fellowship. God clearly states that His hands are not short to accomplish whatever He wishes by way of answered prayers. “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities [wrong doings] have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1-2)

To be in the company of the righteous, you must be upright, blameless in your walk, your talk and the way you carry yourself. Does that make it hard for someone to be righteous? No! It would require a change in attitude towards how and with whom we spend our time. What habits do we indulge in? We must learn to forsake the ordinary and aim for the extraordinary. Living a righteous life compels us to live exemplary lives, willing to abandon and forsake a multitude of untoward practices on the altar of sacrifice.

Our God is gracious and merciful; nevertheless He is overtly principled in His dealings with His people. “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry. .... The righteous cry out and the Lord heard them: He delivers them from all their troubles. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all: He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. ” (Psalm 34:15, 17, 19-20) Does that look like you? Could I fit this prescription? Whatever the case, wherever we have fallen short, this message constitutes a signal to sit up and begin to work on our shortcomings.

Father Abraham did not start on that foot but he did a three hundred

and ninety degrees round-about-face-turn when he became serious about God’s mission for him. He literally turned away from messing with matters of the flesh and paying heed to spiritual things. The Bible records that for this new frame of mind, it was accounted to him as righteousness. He fully obeyed God and was highly rewarded.

If we take a peek into the Book of Proverbs, we will find quite a number of references which paint a profile picture of an ideal righteous man and woman for that matter. “The desire of the righteous ends only in good, ....” (Proverbs 11:23) “The prospect of the righteous is joy......” (Proverbs 10:28) “The way of the Lord is a refuge for the righteous ......” (Proverbs 10:29) “The righteous will never be uprooted ......” (Proverbs 10:30)

“Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.” (Proverbs 11:21) “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner.” (Proverbs 11:30-31)

At times the Bible refers to the righteous man as upright. “The integrity of the righteous guides them, .... the righteousness of the upright delivers them, .... the righteous man is rescued from trouble ...”   (Proverbs 11: 3, 6, 8) “..... the generation of the upright will be blessed.” (Psalm 112:2b) King David in one of his psalms had this to say: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” (Psalms 37:25) “Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.” (Isaiah 3:10)

God will have mercy upon a nation where he could find even less than barely ten righteous persons. When Abraham pleaded for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah at the time when God intended to destroy these two cities because of their wicked ways, Abraham pleaded with God whether He would withhold his intention to wipe out these two cities if fifty righteous persons could be found in them. Abraham was uncertain of the number but pleaded up to ten and stopped there. He believed that to be the case. Unfortunately, it turned that there were not enough righteous persons and therefore God went ahead with His plan. He however saved Lot -- Abraham’s nephew and his family. 

We have a tendency to confuse righteousness with perfection. These are completely different yardsticks. We are working towards perfection with Christ as our role model but the primary step in that direction is adherence to righteous living. 

It is good to know that God rewards all our righteous deeds and therefore righteousness should be our standard for living. We should never depart from it. “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield and your great reward.” (Genesis 15:1) Maybe Abram was a bit sceptical at that point in time, not until he heard the Lord say to him; “Walk before me and be blameless” that he straightened up and espoused the prophecy of becoming the father of all nations.

At the end of his life, David too was richly rewarded. He had this to say: “The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has rewarded me. ..... I have been blameless before Him and have kept myself from sin. The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in His sight. (2 Samuel 22: 21, 24--25)

There is no gainsaying that; “Misfortune pursues the sinner, but prosperity is the reward of the righteous.” (Proverbs 13:21)