2nd Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now, there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord , the righteous Judge will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
This scripture has a lot of meaning to me. First, it is how I would have described my mother and her life in Christ. This was read at her funeral, just a few 3 1/2 years ago. I still miss her every day, but I know that when I am taken to heaven one way or the other, I will see my parents and so many who have gone before me. If she has not already laid her crown at Jesus’ feet, she will be wearing it and because I too long for His appearing in that day, I will be given one–still that is not exactly the righteousness I want to talk about tonight.
The Holy Word talks about righteousness a great deal, going all the way back to Genesis, when He God credited it (faith) to him as righteousness. 1st Samuel says the Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and this is the way the world will be judged–in righteousness.
So what exactly is righteous? Webster’s dictionary says it is acting or behaving in accordance with what is just, honorable, and free from guilt or wrong. then it adds the words virtuous, noble, moral, ethical. I would disagree a bit with that definition in light of what God says about it. Because I have personally known people that were perhaps virtuous, but not exactly what I would call sterling character. So maybe Webster’s is a little off too. I think you can be ethical, moral, noble and even virtuous without any relationship with God our Father. I know people who are tremendously good people who are all those things but without a Savior.
In 2nd Corinthians 5:17 It says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. All of this is from God-nothing we did ourselves. He reconciled the world to Himself in Christ, not counting mens’ sins against them. Or to make this very personal, not counting my sins against me! And so if we are now reconciled, then we are Christ’s ambassadors…. as God was making His appeal through you. I have to stop here again and say, yes that has happened to me numerous times, when He has just taken over, given the message, and then reconciled that person to Him. That is an awesome thing to be a part of! The appeal is to be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2nd Corinthians 5: 18-21
But still what is this righteousness? Well it is described as Robes of Righteousness and also a necklace of Righteousness which can become tarnished because of lack of obedience. Faith is also credited as righteousness. He credited Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham that by their faith, became heirs of righteousness that comes by faith. Then Issac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses’ parents, Moses, the prostitute Rahab, and even more with Gideon, Samuel, David, the prophets–they too were credited by their faith to righteousness. And so then I must ask what is faith? Hebrews 11:1 gives us the perfect definition. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
So I see a pattern. Do you? Faith which leads to obedience and obedience which leads to holiness and holiness to righteousness which is defined by us as the Lord’s Righteousness, The robes of Righteousness, and the Righteousness that has been credited to me because of my faith! I’d call that a perfect circle, a double whammy! The more you do, the more you do.
And that is true for me, the more you study God’s Word and talk with Him, the more you want to. I used to wonder what anyone could pray about to God for a whole night. Now I know.
I told someone earlier tonight that until the last 2-3 years, I thought I could choose when to be obedient and when to pursue holiness, but it doesn’t work like that! When you give your heart to Jesus, He is going to uphold His part of the covenant. That part is to refine you like gold and make you ready for heaven. So no, you don’t get to choose, once you’ve made the choice for HIM, eventually He will get you in a place where you can’t do anything but obey Him and once you are, you’ll find it rather pleasant, because His burden is light, remember, and then it is so easy to start pursuing holiness, excellence, faith.