Righteousness is a very essential concept in Christianity, which many believers sadly pay scanty attention to these days. Meanwhile, it is so important that Jesus Christ found time to talk about it. For example, in Matthew 5:20, He said: ‘’For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’’. Above, demonstrates how important it is!
By definition, righteousness is the state of being just or right with God. When a person is righteous, it means he or she is faultless or sinless before God. A lot of people in this day and age, believe they are righteous, but they are not. According to Apostle Paul, a legend in Christian matters, “There is none righteous, no, not one’’ (Romans 3:10). And the main reason why no one is righteous is because we are all sinners. Again, Apostle Paul confirmed our sinful nature in Romans 3:23 thus: ‘’for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’’. And given that we are all sinners, it is unthinkable that we can ever be so good, as to earn righteousness by our own works.
Nevertheless, many people attained righteousness through God, in times past. They include Abel (Hebrews 11: 4) and Noah (Genesis 7:1). Others are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Zechariah, Ruth, Elisabeth and a host of others in the Old and New Testaments.
So, why is righteousness such a big deal? Well, it is a big deal because, if we attain it, we will enjoy several mouth-watering benefits. For example:
- We will live our lives in peace and quietness (Isaiah 32:17)
- We will live our lives in safety (Proverb 18:10)
- We will not be forsaken (Psalm 37:25)
- Our nations will be exalted (Proverb 14:34)
- We will have purposeful direction in life (Proverbs 11:5)
- Our earthly needs will be guaranteed (Matthew 6:31-34)
- We will attain heaven at the end of our lives (Matthew 5:20).
As you can see, the benefits of being righteous are many and very captivating therefore every serious minded/self-respecting Christians should work towards attaining it. So, how can we possibly do this? Or better still, how can we ‘Awake to righteousness’, you may wish to ask at this point? Well, we can do so by:
- Appreciating our limitations. First of all, we must appreciate the fact that righteousness only come from God; no one can attain it through good works. Apostle Paul corroborated this position as follows: ‘’For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast’’ (Ephesians 2:8-9). So, if God does not make you righteous then, forget it.
- Confessing and forsaking our sins. This factor is extremely important. And it is heart-warming to know that Jesus Christ is willing to forgive us our sins, if we confess and forsake them. Not only that, He will make us righteous as well. Apostle John verified this stance in 1 John 1:9 this way: ‘’If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’’.
- Becoming born again. That is, we need to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ, if we haven’t yet. It is pertinent to mention here too, that except we become born again, we can never enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3). And if we become born again, we will become new creations; the sort that Jesus can confer righteousness on. Apostle Paul gave the link between being in Christ, and being a new creation in 2 Corinthians 5:17. He said: ‘’Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new’’.
- Believing by faith that we have righteousness through Christ. Please remember that no one can attain righteousness on his or her own strength. In fact, our so called righteousness according to the bible is like a filthy rag before God (Isaiah 64:6). True righteousness is from the Lord (Jeremiah 33:14-16)! And we must believe by faith, that we have it through Christ. This is very important!
After attaining righteousness, it is our duty to defend it vigorously. This we can do by:
- Having absolute faith in God and His promises (Romans 3:28)
- Conducting (behaving) ourselves rightly. A man is called righteous, by the things he does, not just by his faith alone (James 2: 20-24)
- Fleeing from all manners of sins (Ephesians 5:5)
- Treating other people very well (Matthew 25:33-40)
- Being at peace with others (James 3:18)
- Standing up for what is right at all times, even if our lives are at stake (Acts 4:19-21)
Friend, we have seen various aspects of the concept called righteousness. And we have noticed that having it is fraught with benefits. We have also seen how we can attain and maintain it. It is my hope that you, like other Christians, would take up the challenge of waking up to righteousness today, in Jesus name. Amen. Yes, it might not be easy to do so, but remember that we can do all things, through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).
Jesus is Lord!
C Adedayo Stoney Adegbulu, 2012