The Lord is pouring more of His Spirit out on the world, and many are feeling the call to a life fully dedicated to Him — a life of righteousness.
But, what does righteousness really mean, and how to we walk in it? What does God really want from us?
There’s a lot that could be said about this, but in the most basic and pure form, to walk in righteousness means to walk in obedience to the will of God — to walk in conformity to Jesus Christ.
I believe these verses are a good summary of what righteousness means:
Matthew 22:37 – Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law of the prophets.
Romans 12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
1 Cor 9: 25-27 – And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be castaway.
Also, see Matthew Chapter 5.
Love and obedience. That is the essence of righteousness.
To love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind means you give all you have to Him. You strive to always do what He wants you to do, rather than conforming to the world. But, loving Jesus as we should isn’t as easy as we might think. In-fact, we cannot love Him like we aught unless He teaches us what that means — unless He writes the laws of His kingdom in our hearts through His Spirit. Something worth praying about for sure. One thing I’ve prayed for is for Jesus to show me how I can love Him better. Here’s some of what I’ve learned so far:
What it means to love our neighbor
- Jesus wants us to stop fighting with one another. (James 3:16-18) If you have children, think about this. How frustrating is it to see your children arguing over petty matters? Don’t you think God feels the same? We are to love our brothers and sisters. Not gossip about them, spread lies or jump to hasty conclusions. We are to live in peace and in oneness with Him as a single, unified body. If we cannot agree on something, we take it to the Lord and trust that He will deal with it, not allowing disagreements to fuel anger, bitterness, insecurity, or any other form of darkness that is not of God.
- We are to serve one another. (Colossians 3:23-24) Too often we become self-consumed, bothered too much by our own needs for security, health, love, pleasures, or whatever. We are to love others more than we need to be loved. That means we sacrifice anything we have for the good of those around us, even if it means we go without. When the Lord blesses us with a gift, we are to invest it wisely in those who are in greater need, not bury it in the earth. If you have riches in this earth, then you’re not loving the poor. If you have an abundance of free time spent on earthly pursuits, that’s time you could have spent preaching the gospel or helping someone in need. We are to give all, as living sacrifices for the good of our brothers and sisters.
- We absolutely must forgive. (Luke 17:3) No one has been done more wrong than Jesus. He came as a servant, loving all and giving all for us, then was killed because of it. He did nothing to deserve all the mocking, beatings, and pain He endured. We have all done wrong against Him, and we deserve any bad thing we get. We have absolutely no entitlement, especially when it comes to how others treat us. If the Lord can forgive us, we must also forgive. Bitterness, anger, resentment, and hate are all sure paths to destruction.
- Rebuke gently. (Gal 6: 1-2) It can be hard to tell someone that they are doing things that are against God’s will, but if you love them, you’ll tell them anyway, even if it means loosing them for a time. But, it’s all in how you do it. We are to restore one another gently, never using harsh words that attack the individual. Your brothers and sisters are not your enemy. Satan who binds them and whispers lies that pull them astray is the enemy. We don’t fight against flesh and blood, but against the darkness in this world. We never justify evil to make others feel better, but, we take care with how we approach people, or we might find ourselves dealing with the same struggle.
- Judge their fruit, not their flesh. (Gal 5: 14-26) Too often we judge others based on how well they dress, how much money they have, how many degrees they hold, how well they speak, their charisma and charm, or whatever. These are of the earth, not God. Instead, judge according to how much fruit of the Spirit a person has. How much peace, love, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control they possess. Some of the most Godly people might be covered in tattoos, ex drug addicts, poor, a single parent, or not very bright by our standards. In fact, it’s the people who have been broken by life, those who can approach God in humility that are more likely to find Him — not those who have lived cushy lives of privilege.
- We cannot judge a heart. (2 Tim 2:25-26) Satan is really good at whispering lies to us, connecting dots to justify the bad things He wants us to see in others — especially when it comes to slandering those who walk closely to God. We have to take those negative thoughts captive, realizing that Jesus would not put those things in us. We bring those things into obedience with Him, understanding that He is the one who judges hearts. There is much more to a person than their struggles or whatever else you think you might know about them. It’s not our job to judge self-righteously, but to gently lead them to Christ and to love them no matter what.
- We should be patient with others. (Ephesians 4:2) Jesus endures a lot from us as we continue to grow and strive to see His promises fulfilled in us. We should extend the same to others, knowing that any good thing we have came from God anyway. Being patient with others means we love them no matter how difficult they might be, no matter how they treat us or those we love. We trust in the Lord, allowing Him to deal with their hearts in His perfect way, just as He is dealing with ours.
What it means to love the Lord
So much could be said here. Here’s a few basics to think about.
- Love our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:14-18 ) See above. We are to be servants to all, never dealing with others for personal gain. We are to live in forgiveness, gentleness, compassion, and at peace with all as much as possible.
- Learn to hear Him. (Hebrews 3:15) Jesus is our Shepard, and His sheep hear His voice. If you’re not hearing Jesus very clearly, then start praying to hear Him better. He wants a personal relationship with each of His children.
- Obey Him. (James 4: 7-8) Once you start hearing Him better, He expects obedience. Obeying God will look a lot like loving your neighbor. He wants us to give all to Him, to seek Him in all our ways so He can direct our paths.
- Approach Him as a child. (Matthew 18:3) Jesus makes it very clear that we are to be as little children if we are to enter His kingdom. That means faith, humility, and obedience as a child. We are to know that He will provide our every need. He is our Father, isn’t He? That means we do not give into fear or worry over the cares of this world. We are to be humble before Him, never proud or puffed up in our own understanding. We are to do what He says, when He says it and how. As we grow closer to Him, He will show us what He expects from us on an individual level.
- Don’t deny Him. (2 Tim 2: 11-14) Not only should we declare boldly that Jesus is the living son of God, we should also believe in what He taught and what He has available to us. We are to believe that He can and will write the laws of righteousness in our hearts, perfecting us in holiness so we can offer ourselves as living sacrifices. We should never deny the Holy Spirit or the gifts that are given by it, but instead we should seek those things diligently.
- Rejoice in affliction. (1 Cor 12: 9-10) (1 Peter 3: 13-17) Instead of complaining or worrying when things get hard, we should thank Him. Affliction works all kinds of good things in us like patience, self-control, love, and more. The more we suffer, the more we are like Jesus, and that alone is something to be thankful for. In times of trouble, call on Jesus. He will see you through.
- Give Him the glory. (1 Cor 4:7) All good things in us come from God. We have absolutely no right to be proud. Any chance we get, we should thank Him and declare His goodness to the world.
- Carry your cross. Bear the burden of others. (Galatians 6:2) As we grow into Christ more and more, we should be doing some of the heavy lifting too (while knowing that ultimately, it is Jesus in us that makes this possible). That can mean many things from dealing patiently with others, to intercessory prayer to Jesus on their behalf, to walking alongside them, helping them carry their burdens while Jesus works in them. If we are to be like Jesus and joint heirs, then we should act like it. Let all that entails sink down deep.
That’s some about what it means, but how do we actually do it?
We can never walk righteously on our own. We can never enter the kingdom of heaven by our own might, but by seeking Jesus so we can walk with Him in Spirit and in Truth. His Truth is what cleanses us from our sinful nature, filling us with pure love and a desire for doing His perfect and pleasing will. For more on this, read:
This is by no means a comprehensive look at what it means to be righteous, in fact, we each have our own walk and way in which we serve the Lord. I could say so much more, taking each bullet and writing a post in more detail. But, I wanted to touch on these things, really emphasizing that to walk in righteousness is to walk in the love of Jesus and in obedience to Him. When we are full of His love (John 17:26) and obedience to Him, darkness gets purged by default. If we love Him and one another as we should, there is no room for sin, because the essence of sin is hate and lie.
Walking righteously in this present world is not only possible, it is a command from God. If we continue struggling with sin, we ask for more of Jesus. Ask that He will pour His Spirit out on you, more and more each day. Ask that He will teach you how to carry your cross, so that any part of you that is in His way can die, so you can be transformed by the renewing of your mind, soul, and Spirit.
Click here for more scriptures on righteousness.