A moment of beauty to lighten your day.
Yesterday I got a series of great answers, the easiest of which to explain was the nature of sin. But righteousness seemed a little harder to quantify for most people. Perhaps it is because we can all relate more to examples of sin as it is so prevalent in our lives. After all, none are truly righteous but Jesus.
As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one
So in a fallen world FILLED with sinful examples, how then do we learn what it means to be righteous? As humans we learn by example and if all we see is one perfect example of sin after another, then as reflections of one another we must be pretty good at it! If our only real example of righteousness is Jesus (The son of God), well that is a very hard pair of shoes to fill and no one could ever hope to be righteous no matter how hard we tried!
And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.
Not too long ago we had a saying of “What would Jesus do?” which is a nice way of looking at things, but that might be just a little presumptuous to assume we can think like God, since we really have any idea of what that could actually be.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
So now we are in a really tough situation. We all want to be good, but despite our best efforts we aren’t! But at being bad we are masterful at it! So what are we supposed to do???
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through
faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24
being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25
whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
You have heard this all before… it is by faith that we are saved from our own sinful nature. Whew! So we believe in Jesus and all is forgiven right? Right? Jesus came as an example for us and as a way for us to be saved from our sinful nature… So I am good from here on out so long as I believe? Right???
Now this is a very loaded question and I am sure each of you reading has something “Important” to say and add to this statement. But before you fully construct the reply email or comment you are already forming in your head let’s examine the nature of both of these words Righteousness and Sinfulness.
Over time the word Righteousness has come to mean a great many things pertaining to our faith and to how we conduct ourselves in the service of God. Like most Christians today we have been conditioned to accept this word as meaning a type of glorious and highly sacred way to think and be. After all we are accounted amongst His righteous, well, at least we hope we are (wink, wink).
The word Righteous is clearly an important word in the scriptures as it is used (Depending on your Bible version) over 500 times! And in those 500 plus times we see it exemplifies many attributes thus making it hard for many to easily quantify any one simple definition. But the word is actually very simple to understand once we take away our sacred religious beliefs. Righteousness simply means correctness. To be in the right about something is to be correct, though in this sense it may imply some form of justice as well. But in the truest sense that is all this word means, correctness. In our spiritual conditioning we have learned to increase the word “RIGHT” in meaning to something sacred, and by adding the “eousness” at the end of the word we have changed the word “Right” to meaning something else completely different. Correctness is not a complicated thing to understand. We all love to be correct, especially in an argument or disagreement. So we are VERY familiar with the term, but it is a hard thing to understand a holy supplication of righteousness only because it is clouded by the perception of it being a holy and religious action. Unfortunately our religions often tends to cloud our vision of simple things because it makes us feel we are connected to a greater source, and therefore in a constant state of judgment where we either feel vindicated in our righteousness, or we end up feeling small and shameful for our faults. Either way, we are only hurting ourselves in being too close to the meaning of the word as a religious action rather than a simple truth.
I am including a video in this post to help and explain what happens when we expect greater rewards for our efforts. It is not a religious video but simply economically and psychologically based. In this video you will not hear words of God and religion, but only what it means to be rewarded at different levels of service. I chose this video (Though a little long) to illustrate an important point in our perceptions.
In the video we learn that a bonus reward is a great motivator so long as the work is straightforward, predefined and measurable as say a physical task. Dig more ditches, get a greater compensation. Sell more products, get a higher bonus commission. By doing more of this particular action, the greater your reward will be. But the inverse result happens when we are trying to work harder for a goal that is not so easily defined as in a creative and cerebral position.
A cognitive position is not as easy to quantify in terms of more equals more. Not many people can hold influential positions in a society or in the work place and those that do are often heavy thinkers and they usually have too much riding on their success to take chances on trends and whims. So then fewer chances are taken at a higher level because those on top have farther to fall and there are fewer jobs out there for them should they fail since their work relies heavily upon their reputation? Taking chances at a higher level is simply a recipe for disaster should things go wrong, and let us not forget the immense pressure to succeed when everyone is relying on you.
He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.
When people of greater cognitive power are motivated by power or greed they will often use whatever influence they have to undermine their competitions success to ensure their own. The higher up the corruption starts, the more the mountain below them is likely to become sickened in the landslide of corruption. So the same reward system of greater compensation does not work the same for everyone up the line.
The reason I chose this example was to show what happens to our minds and spirits the higher we climb in our righteousness with God. When we are sinners we fear little of falling from grace as grace is something you have to look up too, and really how often do people tend to look up, especially when they are slithering around in the shadows trying to go unnoticed? But once you have risen above your former state and migrated vertically into a relationship with God, through grace, you might discover another side to yourself. In a sense of self-elevation you will soon discover that you look down on more people by looking up to a “better” more favored status with God. In our own pride of our righteousness we feel better somehow and take on the persona of the hypocrite praying with large prayers of many words.
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
The higher you rise in the spirit the quicker your vision is sure to become clouded and you will soon fail to see what you rose up to see in the first place. This is not about a corporate ladder as some might suggest. The more you know of your religion does not guarantee that you will find a favored place with God.
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Neither law nor lawlessness give you favor with God. It is only words that you have become a student of, and not a true student of truth and a disciple of Christ. Truth is hidden within the words and the truth shall set you free, not the rules you know.
Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. 35 And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”
Isolating yourself in the name of Righteousness only makes you alone and lonely and you will miss out on some very good people that could otherwise enrich your life. The information fed to us by our religion often puffs us up into vain beings, full of pride in our own self-knowledge of God’s secret kingdom and we forget what it was like to be as a child when we once asked “Why?”
Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
You do not need to be of the sect of Pharisees and Sadducees to be just like one. It is just a vain ideal that you are better than others by being “closer” to God by being familiar with His laws. How does this make you better than a simple child who does not even know the law but is clearly favored far above you?
At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent
and have revealed them to babes.
A child does not fear being humble and this makes them better then someone who is too full of pride to deflate their ego. A child does not know rules but understands righteousness better than you because they are often quicker to forgive and share. They do childish things, but they are not as accountable to their wrongs as they don’t understand the rules like you believe you do.
For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
But in our perceptions of righteousness we feel we are better than those who do not know or understand the truth and if enough people tell you something is a certain way you just accept the explanation without questioning and move on happy to be the wiser and closer to God… but a child still might have challenged the notions with “Why?” And though much of what you have learned in church may be correct, it does not help you to see clearly with the clouds around you that hinder you from the truth in understanding.
Our relationship with our Creator is very simple thing but we often confuse it with some sacred image of perfection. And though a type of perfection is our goal, it is not attainable in this lifetime and God knows it because He said no one is righteous! But He also made you the way you are for a reason. We all fall short of the grace of God, and it’s okay… to a point. Let us instead, try for a moment, to remove the cloud of sacredness in words and not look at our faith as a religion of rules but as an expression of clear and pure thoughts, because that is what this is really all about. We are justified through our faith, and this is good, but our minds are VERY important and NOT to be overlooked. This aspect of your spiritual journey is more important than you might suspect. Long ago, ancient philosophers spent a great many centuries dedicated to what was “right” and “wrong”, meticulously going over the virtues and benefits of things like greed versus giving. The reasoning on both sides of the arguments were often visited without bias to one side or another. It was simply a question of what was the best action, or stance, to take as a whole for an individual and for a society. If you ever want to see a wonderful example of this process of debates read The Republic of Plato and watch as Socrates attacks each topic from all angles till only one solution remains. It’s dizzyingly beautiful. Remember the ancient Greeks and Hebrews were some of the best philosophers of the time and the two cultures are connected closer than you might think. So in the process of debate and deliberation only one solution can remain, so perhaps it is then the correct answer to pursue. Thus this correctness is equated as righteous judgment as it is the only right choice to choose and all else would then be in error to this judgment. And not so surprisingly their judgments matched up to the judgments of the Hebrew God we still worship today.
So if correctness is what we seek to achieve, then all else that is not perfectly correct is in err of correctness. This is actually the essence of sin. Sin too is not complicated to understand. It simply means to err.
Sin: 1) to be without a share in (Not equal too) 2) to miss the mark 3) to err, be mistaken
So we now have what is correct and what is in error of the correctness. Remember, we are all simple creatures that are little more than animals that walk upright and can process abstract ideas out of simple truths, but at our core we are all still dedicated to discovering what is correct or true. If you have not caught on by now, that is what TRUTH is. What is it that is true or correct!
It is a basic instinct you have to want to know what is the right action to take in ALL situations. What should I wear? What should I eat? What should I do in this situation? We don’t always see the correct path to take as this truth hides itself in our desire for self-preservation. If we happen to make a bad choice it can lead to disastrous effects that can affect us in very serious ways. So we change our perceptions of correctness to accommodate what it is that will keep us the most safe and comfortable. This is where the word wickedness springs from. It is a type of twisting of truth much like a wick is braided and twisted. When something is twisted like a road that is crooked then the truth of a thing is not easy to discern and only an illusion of the end result remains. In our error of correctness, the true path is easily lost thus leaving only a twisted image of what it should be. So I guess the 80′s had it wrong by calling things both “twisted (gnarly)” and “righteous” at the same time!
Pain and rejection are great motivators in our process of learning and we flee from them with every choice we make, thus the RIGHT choice at that time is self-preservation rather than unity to a greater cause. So if we flee from injustice as a coward then we are inevitably perpetuating the false truth. But if we stand our ground on an important matter we attempt to remove the error and stop the perpetuation of wickedness, or rather putting to an end the error running rampant in the system.
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
So instead of being unified as a single organism dedicated to correctness we flee pain and seek self-preservation and become separate entities fleeing from the unsubstantial monster called error or “Sin”, but in fleeing we become only another part of it. If we are not unified to correctness we are separated in the error of our individual ways.
Unfortunately, it is easier to look at “Sinners” as wicked people and rightfully going to Hell because sin hurts more than it heals, and as pain is the beast we fear most in our hopes for self-preservation, we then feel vindicated knowing that the causers of pain are going away and can never hurt anything again. But maybe a better way is to look at everyone else is to see them as a reflection of the body that could be and not as a pile of sand that will not cohere together into a stone to build upon. Without substance of spirit (water) life is dust, ever shifting and chaotic, but with a giving heart of substance things stick together and unify. We are all dust and lost and alone, but we really just want to be correct and join to the Spirit of God and others and belong. So what if you took your hand and took hold of just one person on each side of you. Maybe one to look up to and one that needs a hand up? What would that do to our society? If each person learned a little more from a good mentor, and then shared a little more with a person in need? In my math 1+1 does not equal 2, because joy multiplies when shared, and pain diminishes with every person it is divided amongst. So then each one person making an effort is no longer one person alone but part of something bigger. The members of a society cannot live apart and separated into isolation or it will fall quickly to a greater unified force. Consider what is stronger? Five separate fingers or a fist joining them together as one?
Ecclesiastes 4: 9
Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Sin is not the enemy. It is simply frightened individuals looking for the right answers and fleeing from the pain of loneliness. And righteousness is not being more pious and more “Right” with God. It is doing the right thing for the betterment of others. We are all one in the eyes of the Lord, so why can’t we see that too? Is it better to try to go to heaven blinded lost and lonely in the clouds and leave the rest to suffer because they are not as “correct” as you? Or is it better to cling dearly to a few deserving souls that may not be perfect but have potential, and pull them up along with you? We all just need a little love and understanding, and we can all use a hand up… or better yet come down off your high horse and give them a boost up!
Here ya go God. He’s heavy but he’s my brother!
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