Scripture:

Proverbs 21

Vs. 3 To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Vs. 12 The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked;

Vs.15 When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.

Vs. 21 Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
will find life, righteousness, and honor.

Vs. 26 All day long (the sluggard) craves and craves,
but the righteous gives and does not hold back.

Observation:

There are many many thoughts discussed in this Proverb, but the theme of “righteous” is touched on throughout, from beginning to end.
Interestingly, it’s discussed as a category of people, “the righteous”, or even more broadly, “whoever”.
But there is a specific and unique distinction given to God … “The Righteous One”!
So, while the “righteous” may be a descriptor of many, the many have a source of their “righteousness”.
Whoever is “righteous” must get their “righteousness” from “The Righteous One”.

Application:

In each of the references to a righteous person, there is an indication of how we know they’re righteous.
There is an external expression of it.
You “do” righteousness.
Justice is “done”.
Righteousness is “pursued”.
The righteous “gives and does not hold back”.

In modern Christianity, we love to hold up the grace of God, and rightfully so.
But I do so at the risk of diminishing the importance of action. Actually living it out!
You know … that word that the faithful so often fear to speak of … “works”.
But James was right. Faith without works is dead.
And as I work to “do and pursue” justice and righteousness around me, I just have to remember that this is not what makes me righteous.
I do not do these things FOR righteousness.
I do them FROM righteousness.
And the Lord finds them even “more acceptable than sacrifice”.
I often think of “good works” as sacrifice.
But what was sacrifice back then? It was religious ritual.
So is this diminishing the importance of religious ritual?
No. “Sacrifice” and ritual were vital to these people.
So, if “pursuing righteous” is “more acceptable” than religious ritual (worship gathering, corporate prayer, etc.), it is not meant to diminish the importance of “Sunday morning stuff”.
It is meant to elevate the importance of everyday stuff!
I must live out righteousness.
And as I do them, I will … “find life”!

Prayer:

Thank you, again, God for Your Word.
It reminds me always that your ways are better than my ways.
Help me pursue righteousness today.
Help me see those opportunities you place in front of me.
And give me the courage to act.
In Jesus name.
Amen.