Righteousness: A Way Of Being

I, like many of you grew up believing that my country, the United States of America, was the greatest country on earth. Our founding documents were aligned with righteousness and equality. Our forefathers openly proclaimed the sovereignty of the God of creation and pledged equality for all of citizens. Sadly, this noble beginning has not endured. America no longer pursues the values of her founding, but instead has “waxed cold” in its love.

Jesus prophesied about conditions that would exist prior to his coming as King of the world. One of those conditions is cold love.

Matthew 24:12
“And because of the increase in lawlessness, the love of the many will grow cold.”

What does it mean when “love grows cold”. At first reading it would seem reasonable to conclude that this refers to brotherly love. But it isn’t. The Greek word for love in this passage is “agape”. Agape is best understood as loving as God loves. For instance, Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount to “love your enemies”. That doesn’t mean we have to like our enemies or give them our allegiance. Instead, we love our enemies when we act in a way toward them which is consistent with God’s nature. God is merciful and gracious and yet He will not ignore evil or allow it to go unpunished.

America and most nations of the world are now led by people who do not live according to the agape standard of love for their fellow man, much less their enemy. Jesus gave us the answer to why this condition exists in the same verse … “because of the increase in lawlessness”. Lawlessness is a state which has rejected or replaced the natural laws of God with something else. When humanity goes against God’s order as Creator, then lawlessness arises. Lawlessness then shows up as unloving, unrighteous laws which defy God and hurt people.

Isaiah 10:1
“Woe to those who enact unrighteous laws, and to the writers who write oppressive regulations, to deprive the needy of justice and to rob the poor among my people of their rights, so that widows may be their spoil, and so that they may make the fatherless their prey!”

The call to every Christian is to stand against lawlessness at every instance. When our schools teach children to dishonor their parents, we stand against it. When rioters destroy private property in the name of some cause, we stand against it. When our governments or universities demand we use particular pronouns when referring to certain individuals, we stand against it.

Righteousness is our only weapon against lawlessness. And I’m not referring to a righteousness based on a belief. I’m speaking of the righteousness of being. Jesus warned his followers that their righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees who only appeared godly to others, but who were in fact evil. A righteousness of being was shown by Abraham when he placed his trust in God and did the right thing, leaving his home and going to wherever God led. It was demonstrated by Daniel when he defied the royal order and prayed to YAHWEH in the face of death by lion’s den. It was in the words of Peter when he faced down the Sanhedrin saying “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you judge…”

Matthew 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. And people do not light a lamp and put it under a basket; instead they put it on the lampstand, and it shines light to all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people so that they can see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

It is reported that the light from a single candle flame can be seen from a distance of more than a mile away. In these times of lawlessness, we must have more than a rightly divided belief. We must have a lifestyle, a way of being that is consistent with God’s character. Only then can we courageously stand against the systematic evils of our day. My prayer is that every believer will stand against the lawlessness of our time and shine forth the light of truth in righteousness and love.

May our neighbors see our light and glorify God and His son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

All My Love,