One of the things that Marie and I enjoy is looking at cars and dreaming about what it would be like to tool down the motorway in a variety of luxury SUVs or sports models. Marie is captivated by the Porsche Cayenne, and fantasizes about the thrill of driving one. I particularly like BMW’s, and am intrigued by their motto: “The relentless pursuit of perfection.” The motto points to the elusive but conceivable goal of their company – to produce cars that touch perfection. What a wonder it would be to drive the ideal road machine, the perfect car! Now if there is a reality in the realm of automobiles that can be termed “perfection,” that means there is a standard, a norm that draws our thoughts and serves as a reference point for our dreams. That standard would be the objective reality against which every car would be measured. 

You see, we tend to look at life this way. There is something inherent in us that longs for perfection, and we are exhilarated when our experience touches something that approaches it. When people or situations fall short of perfection, we are invariably disappointed even though we may have a cynical response that is resigned to accepting less than the ideal. The fascinating thing is that the teachings of Jesus in the Bible encourage this pursuit of perfection. As a matter of fact, Jesus indicates very clearly that perfection is there for us who will seek after it. He calls it “righteousness.” 

The difficulty that we encounter when we think of perfection is that it makes us feel like we have to live up to something that is foreign to us. We think of ourselves as fundamentally flawed, and we have no hope that we could ever live up to a standard called “righteousness.” But God created us for glory, not for frustration. The human race was broken by sin, but Jesus made the way clear for everything that was in God’s heart to be restored to us. We long for perfection because it is our birthright, to be fully realized when we see Him face to face. But this perfection is not something merely to be attempted in an external, behavioral way. Our hearts were made to be captured by the perfection of Jesus, to fall in love with Him, and to be transformed in such a way that the actions of our lives would become like Him as well.

Essentially the term “righteousness” means to live in a way that is consistent with God’s perfect pattern for your life. This perfect pattern is the man Jesus. You were created to be like Him. To be righteous is to have our inner person – our hearts, our thoughts, our attitudes – aligned with the pattern of Jesus, with His thoughts and attitudes. From that internal alignment we can begin to live externally in line with the behavior of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Righteousness means to be in perfect alignment with how God sees all things to be in the reality of His life, and He promises that those who seek after it with intensity will be fully satisfied. This line of thought may cause one to ask “How do I discover what God thinks and how He sees all things?” The answer to that question is that in a spirit of worship and prayer we begin to search the Scriptures and study the person of Jesus who perfectly reveals God’s character. 

The Bible is full of thoughts and actions that are attributed to righteousness, and to the lifestyle of righteous people. Consider for example this list of character traits that are attributed to righteousness in the Book of Proverbs:
•    The Outlook on Life

o    They are hopeful (Proverbs 10:24)

o    They are concerned about the welfare of God’s creation (Proverbs 12:10)

o    They understand justice (Proverbs 28:5)

•    The Response to Life

o    They are covered with blessings (Proverbs 10:6)

o    They give thought to their ways (Proverbs 21:29)

o    They persevere against evil (Proverbs 24:15-16)

•    How the Righteous are seen by Others

o    They are appreciated (Proverbs 13:15)

o    Their conduct is upright (Proverbs 21:8)

o    They do not desire the company of godless people (Proverbs 24:1-2)

o    Others are glad when they triumph (Proverbs 28:12)

o    They care for the poor (Proverbs 29:7)

o    They detest the dishonest (Proverbs 29:27)

•    The Quality of Life

o    They stand firm (Proverbs 10:25)

o    They are delivered by righteousness (Proverbs 11:6)

o    No real harm befalls them (Proverbs 12:21)

o    Their income results in treasure (Proverbs 15:6)

o    They avoid evil (Proverbs 16:17)

o    They are bold as lions (Proverbs 28:1)

o    They will be safe (Proverbs 28:18)

•    Short-term Results of Righteousness

o    They walk securely (Proverbs 10:9)

o    They are rewarded with prosperity (Proverbs 13:21)

•    Long-term Results of Righteousness

o    God protects them (Proverbs 10:29)

o    They are never uprooted (Proverbs 10:30)

•    Eternal Expectations 

o    They will earn a sure reward (Proverbs 11:18)

o    They will attain life (Proverbs 11:19)

o    Their life will end only in good (Proverbs 11:23)

o    They will stand firm (Proverbs 12:7)

o    They will have a refuge when they die (Proverbs 14:32)

•    God’s Opinion of the Righteous

o    He delights in their good (Proverbs 11:20)

o    He will cause evil people to bow to them (Proverbs 14:19) 


This is an amazing list of character traits and promises, isn’t it? Those who pursue righteousness with all their hearts will indeed be a powerful group of people! We would encourage you to meditate on these things, asking the Holy Spirit to help you understand what it means to live in righteousness in such a way that these statements become true of your life.

 


Gary Wiens, 8/5/2019