Read Proverbs 11:1-31
“Righteousness.” It’s a rather theological term that you likely don’t hear regularly in the mainstream of conversation. Not a word you probably used in your last encounter with a member of your family or the cashier at Wal-Mart. With three syllables and more than its share of silent letters, it is the kind of word that a new reader would stumble over.
But whatever it is, Solomon sure makes possessing “righteousness” or being “righteous” desirable.
- It will deliver you from death (v. 4).
- It gives you a clear path through life (v. 5).
- It delivers you (v. 6), rescues you from trouble (v. 8), and provides escape from the godless (v. 9).
- It causes happiness in entire cities (v. 10).
- If you possess it, you will attain life and reward (vv. 18, 19).
- It will spare you of punishment (vv. 21, 23).
- It allows you to thrive and experience a fruitful life (vv. 28, 30).
So now, here come the all-important questions: What is “righteousness?” What is required to possess it? What does one do to be it?
Perhaps one of the simplest definitions of this enigmatic word is “moral uprightness.” It is “living the right way.” Now, before anyone breaks his/her arm in attempting to pat his/her own back, the Bible says, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” (Rom. 3:10) None of us lives according to the perfect standards established by God. Righteousness is only revealed to us in the gospel of Jesus (Rom. 1:17) and it is only received by us as we come to Him by faith and experience the great exchange of our sin for His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). We can possess it only as a result of having been given it, not by having earned it.
Even though being declared righteous is the best we can hope for, God, at the same time, calls us to pursue moral uprightness. He invites us to chip away at the discrepancy between our state of positional righteousness in Him and our present condition of imperfection. And, somehow…somewhere in the realities of our positional state and our attempt with God’s help to change our present condition, we experience the blessings that Solomon outlines.
Righteousness…receive it by faith in Christ…pursue it by the strength of the Holy Spirit.