by Pastor Nathan Hedt
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Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, and who seek the Lord … My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way (Isaiah 51:1a,5a).
‘Righteousness’ is a fairly unfamiliar word to us outside of our church experience. In many ways, it has taken on a somewhat negative tint. The term ‘self-righteous’ especially has connotations of being judgemental and hypocritical. What does it mean, then, to pursue righteousness?
New York pastor Tim Keller says that righteousness has two main elements. The first is to be right in relationship with God (not perfect or sinless, and certainly not judgemental, but having a heart tuned in to God’s heart). Abraham was ‘righteous’ because he believed and trusted God’s promises, and Isaiah 51:1 picks up on this connection by pointing to Abraham.
The second element of righteousness is that righteous people seek the good, the benefit and the blessing of the whole community. They invest their time, wealth and resources not for themselves but for the good of society. This is almost the polar opposite of a ‘self-righteous’ person who judges and condemns others.
Jesus says, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled’ (Matthew 5:6). To long for a right and trusting relationship with God is a good longing. To hunger for justice and restoration to come to those who are hurting is a hunger God himself will fill. Righteousness in this sense is something that it is good to pursue, to pour effort into, for in doing so, we are aligning ourselves with God’s own mission of justice, salvation and restoration.
Let us pursue righteousness, for in doing so, we will be met and filled by God, himself!
Lord, you are the God who brings righteousness, justice and salvation. May my longings be aligned to your heart. Help me pursue righteousness and hunger and thirst for it. Thank you that you will fill this longing. In the name of the Righteous One, Jesus, I pray. Amen.