I've had the concept of "righteousness" on my mind for a few weeks now. This morning (here at YLI) we were doing our staff morning devotional and Namra, the staff "mom" who has been doing our morning devotionals, handed all of us a promise from scripture to carry with us throughout the day. Just out of coincidence (yeah right) I was given 1 Peter 3:12.
"For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer."
Growing up in church I had a little distorted perspective about righteousness. I thought that righteousness was all about what you did and didn't do. But lately I've been rediscovering its' meaning. You see, God has called us to do good things and to strive against doing bad things but if you take a step back and look at the real heart behind it you can see that in relation to the real message of righteousness what you do and don't do becomes very small.
There is this verse in Deuteronomy Where God tells the Israelites why He decided to give them laws and rules about what they do. It says "These are all the commands, laws, and regulations that the Lord your God told me to teach you so you may obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy..." and then He proceeds to tell them why He's given them these laws. So that "Then all will go well with you." hmmm... is that how you think of righteousness? Usually we think we're supposed to just do good things and not wonder why. The problem that comes from that is the law becomes binding to us instead of freeing. Just after this verse where God tells us why He gave us the law He says "Listen Oh Israel, The LORD your God, The LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all of you, with that same kind of oneness" (the Wes Ellis Paraphrase Bible). This Law is all about love and relationship with God but it's also about people. Jesus later adds to this Deuteronomy verse another verse that says "love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus says these commands are alike. He wants us to love people with the same kind of oneness we love God with, with all of ourselves. The law is all about love.
Righteousness is striving for a right relationship with God and with the people around us and around the world.