Day 5 of Lent, Psalm 11:
I don’t think much about the word “righteousness.” I have been slightly offended at times when I read in the Bible, “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). “Don’t I do good sometimes? I’m not all that bad. How can it say that?” Yet, I don’t believe so much in the goodness of people that I am blind to the “condition” of the world — staring at me each day in the news, as power, greed, materialism and indifference highlight the headlines. I also see this “condition” in the lives around me, in my family and in the mirror each day. There is a reason that God offered His only Son for redemption and restoration. If I am not righteous, then who is?
Who is righteous?
Why am I even thinking about this and now writing about it? After I read the following verse today, I couldn’t help but see how vital the righteousness of God is. Psalm 11 says:
For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness. The upright will behold His face.
This verse follows a section that speaks of God’s punishment of unrighteousness, and lack of toleration for the unrighteous. In other places, it refers to God as a righteous judge (Psalm 7). God loves righteousness and justice. He is the only One who is completely righteous. He is righteous and I am not.
Justice and Goodness
Why does He love righteousness? Righteousness is apart of His nature, not just a quality that he demonstrates sometimes. In other words, God is completely just and good at the same time, all of the time.
Knowing this brings me comfort. Let me explain with an every day, and rather simple, example. In my neighborhood, there is a speed limit sign of 30 miles an hour. It may be a nuisance to some, but it has been a security to me at times, when all my children were much younger and running around the neighborhood. A slower speed limit provides protection for the residents. At times, the speed limit is not obeyed– many have sped down the street only to find a dead end into a cul-de-sac and an angry mom giving dirty looks! If I could have given a ticket, I would have! The cost of the “ticket” would have been a reprimand and punishment for the “speeder.” The speed limit is good for my street since it helps provide and protect the children who are at play.
This is a small and rather incomplete example, but just as the speed limit gives me comfort– God’s nature, of being righteous, gives me comfort also. I can know that goodness and justice together are apart of His nature. If I remember this and start with this, I can trust Him to do what is right. I can trust in Him as I read the paper and wonder if justice is being done. His righteousness will lead Him to do what is right and good always. He will correct. He will punish. He is completely good, unlike me.
Why care about God being righteous?
As I believe and remember this about God, I easily observe how short I fall from His righteousness. Even on good days, I can be greedy, distracted and self-focused. His righteousness- His goodness and justice, drive me towards His plan of redemption. In His righteousness, He has offered me a way out of my unrighteousness.
If I take this by faith, that God is righteous, it really gives stability and peace. One who is truly just will make things right. The evils of the world (the warring, power hungering, greed, lust, and hatred) will not go unpunished.
The Scriptures also affirm that the righteous will flourish like the green leaf (Proverb 11:28). As we choose to follow in His ways–choose His path of redemption and abide in Him, we too will flourish by His grace. This is a gift. He covers our unrighteousness, and gives us His righteousness–resulting in flourishing. This kind of flourishing may not look like the world’s idea of flourishing– success, monetary gain, great health, no death, fame, or a perfect life. However, it will be a flourishing of character, of love, sharing this gift with others– less of me and more of Christ.
Yes, God being righteous– completely good and just, gives me peace and stability. For He will do the right thing at all times. His righteousness imparted to me is amazing– which leads to flourishing in my life and those around me. This is why God being righteous is vital. It matters.