Our last Bible Page looked at the beauty of holiness, and endeavoured to show that when we recognise just how beautiful a godly character is, we shall be all the more motivated to holiness in our own lives. Aspiration for beauty is a noble and powerful motivation, and seeking the beauty of holiness becomes not a gloomy or hard demand but an eager journey toward that all-compelling and desirable beauty of character.
This Bible Page adds another positive motivation to seeking a life of holiness or righteousness, namely that righteousness is the royal road to a life full of blessing and every kind of satisfaction. Indeed it is the only road to a truly fulfilled life: “Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right”. God’s promises are always made to the righteous and the godly, and such people will always find those promises fulfilled in their lives, irrespective of their wealth, position, birth or natural gifts. Righteousness as a fountain of blessing in people’s lives is one of the major themes of the bible. This theme can be demonstrated from the lives and experiences of numerous bible characters, but in this bible page we look at one or two simple scriptural affirmations of this truth. These scriptures speak powerfully for themselves with little comment. They demand constant meditation.
I start with one of my favourite affirmations: “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” Ps 85:10. Not only is this scripture beautifully poetic, but it speaks to us of something of incalculable importance for our lives – the gift of peace – and links it as closely as possible with righteousness. When two people kiss they express the closest of relationships, they seal the fact that they belong to each other. Righteousness and peace kiss each other because they belong to each other. If righteousness is lacking peace will be lacking. If righteousness is present, peace with be present. A guilty conscience is never at rest, never at peace until guilt is confessed and forgiven. Forgiveness is truly a most magnificent gift of God, bought at the price of the cross, and alone can take away guilt. A guilty conscience can never be suppressed; it can never be relieved without getting right with God and others. The peace of forgiveness is immense. The pathway of holiness is not so much one of striving as of quiet, humble confession and receiving of forgiveness. People may cauterise their conscience by constantly doing what is wrong and trying to make light of it, but they become blank, heartless persons devoid of any real well-being. A wrongly troubled, over-sensitive conscience equally needs an encouraging affirmation of God’s forgiveness and much reassurance, especially from the scriptures.
“Light shines on the righteous, and joy on the upright in heart”. Ps. 97:11. Closely allied to peace is joy. Hard to define, joy is none-the-less a hugely important gift in life. So many people, especially in our wealthy, pleasure-loving modern society still lack any real depth of joy. The most gifted, the most famous and the wealthiest often find it has slipped them by as self-seeking takes over. The philanthropist, however, points the way to joy in their disbursing to needy and helpful causes, for to give to the needy is very much a major factor in righteous living. Joy brings light into a person’s face and being. Light is the illumination of joy; joyful people radiate such light, and are always a pleasure. But righteousness brings light in another sense, namely light on a person’s pathway in life. The upright person will find they are being guided in their choices and decisions.
Consider the following group of texts:
“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence”. Prov. 10:11
“The tongue of the righteous is choice silver but the heart of the wicked is of little value”. Prov. 10 20
“From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be silenced”. Prov. 10:31
“Through the blessing of the righteous a city is exalted ….” Prov. 11:10
These are all affirmations not only of what blessing a righteous person has personally, but of what such a person can bring to other people; the mouth or tongue denotes speaking and so the righteous in their conversations bring life, something worthwhile and wisdom to others. They are able to do that because they seek to be free from envy, jealousy, gossip, self-seeking, lying, uncleanness and the like. They seek to help not use others.
For righteousness and prayer:
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”. James 5:16
“Lord, who may dwell in your Tabernacle (Holy Presence)….. the one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous”. Ps 1: 15.
“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears listen to their prayers”. 1 Pet 3 12
Prayer is a cry of the heart, and God listens to the heart of a person. Words, even in prayer, mean very little if they are not expressions of the heart. Self-righteous, pretentious prayers are of no value and have no outcome. A righteous person is a person after God’s own heart, and seeks what God seeks, and when prayer is the communication of like-minded hearts it is always very fruitful. This was the nature of Jesus’ own prayers. The resource of prayer, heart speaking with God is an immense source of comfort and peace; it renews faith, and assurance that in deep need God can find the answer for us.
Trials and Righteousness:
“Many are the trials (afflictions) of the righteous but the LORD delivers him out of them all” Ps. 34:19
“If you law had not been my delight I would have perished in my affliction.” Ps. 119:92
“I know that your laws are right and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” Ps. 119: 75
It is a matter of great comfort that the Scriptures recognise that righteous people, for all the blessings they experience, still go through trials or afflictions. It is this sort of realism that commends the words of the bible. It seems indeed that the afflictions of the righteous can be at times even extreme in their nature; the church has known many martyrs. And Ps 34 specifically says “many are the trials”; they are not unusual, they can come one after another, even pile up. This is because we live in a world which knows a great deal of evil. Evil is always at war with righteousness, Satan battles with the righteous. But the righteous are promised two things in their afflictions; God will deliver them out of every trial, and God will use every trial to fashion us into a person of an even deeper quality of righteousness. In other words trials and afflictions will be measured and will not overcome us if we keep looking to God and keep prayerful. It is always important to keep that fact in mind and to plead the promise of deliverance in times of difficulty. God is absolutely faithful in this respect. No affliction is pointless for the righteous person; it is permitted because it is one of the most important things in character building. It exposes our faults, reveals our weaknesses and purges them as we struggle to respond. Affliction, handled with prayer and the Scriptures, is immensely strengthening for our faith. It is, of course, very unpleasant; it is frequently not without tears and even perplexity. Its pain is doused most effectively by a constant reading of Scripture.
Our final text is from Titus 2:11: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age”. This is an important text, lest we should be thinking that this bible page is pointing to a life seeking to earn blessing by hard striving after righteousness. Certainly we need to have our mind set on being righteous, but the wonder of the Christian life is that it is “it is the grace of God that …. teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions”. Our righteousness is something that God works in us by his Spirit once we are walking with and following Jesus. The appetite for righteousness is planted in us by the Spirit who is Holy and that appetite is sufficient for our growth.
I do hope this resource maybe helpful, and please feel free to print them out for your own purposes.