Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Happiness of Doing Right

Blessed are those who keep justice,
And he who does righteousness at all times!
(Psalm 106:3)
There is great happiness in keeping justice and doing righteousness. For many, righteousness is a mysterious religious concept. They no more understand it than they understand holiness, and they wonder how either one can result in the deep and joyful happiness we have been considering. But it is really quite easy to understand. Let me break it down for you: Righteousness is simply doing what is right. That’s why I call it rightness.

True rightness is about God. Since He is the creator of all, He knows how everything is supposed to run. He knows what the correct calibrations are for achieving optimum performance in life, and He has revealed it to us in His instruction manual, a.k.a. the Word of God. Keeping justice and doing right is about believing His Word and following His direction.
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with Your God.
(Micah 6:8)
David asked, “LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” (Psalm 15:1). Then he gave this answer:
He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;
He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
But he honors those who fear the LORD;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He who does not put out his money at usury,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
(Psalm 15:2-5)
Sometimes doing the right thing costs us — money, opportunities, even friends. It means keeping our word even when doing so is to our detriment. But doing right is well worth the price. As David concludes in Psalm 15, “He who does these things shall never be moved” (v. 5)

Jesus put it very simply when He said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). In other words, if we will make God’s rule and reign our priority, and follow His way of doing and being right, everything else will be taken care of.

Many people think that we become righteous by doing what is right. But that is backward to the Bible way of thinking. In the Bible, we are made right so that we can do right. That is why Jesus came: “For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus took our sin and gave us His rightness. Indeed, He became sin for us. That is, when God looked at Him on the cross, He saw our sin. In exchange, through faith in Him, we not only receive the rightness of God, we become the rightness of God in Him. When God looks at us, He sees the rightness of Jesus Christ.

In Ephesians, Paul put it this way: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10). We are not made right by doing good works. No, it’s the other way around. We are made right by Jesus Christ so that we can do good works. We become right through faith in Him so we can then do right. We now operate out of the power of His rightness, not our own.

The psalm writer said,
Blessed are those who keep justice,
And he who does righteousness at all times!
Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward Your people;
Oh, visit me with Your salvation,
That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones,
That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation,
That I may glory with Your inheritance.
(Psalm 106:3-5)
The rightness of God at work in us releases the favor of God toward us, because He visits us with His salvation. The Hebrew word for “salvation” is yeshuah, which in name form is Hebrew for Jesus. This is the salvation that comes, not from us and our own works, but from God Himself, and it brings all the goodness of God to bear on our behalf.

Oh, the deep happiness of being made right and living out the instruction of God by the power of His rightness.