The Righteous Life

Day 5

Prayer for the Day

I call with my whole heart; answer me, O LORD, that I may keep your statutes.

Scripture for the Day

Genesis 13-15, Matthew 5:1-26

“Abram believed God, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
Many of us are struggling with what it means to live a righteous life. We look to the law in the scriptures, or the law of the land, we look for rules and checklists, in order to be able to tick the box of “righteous life.” But we never make it.
Part of the struggle we experience is made clear in the book of Matthew. Jesus speaks to the people around him in his famous “Sermon on the Mount” about all sorts of things, but he begins with an incredible list of “blesseds.” It’s easy to look at the blesseds as another checklist. But if we look closely at the list, and at the life of Abram and the life of Jesus, we’re struck by the fact that the checklist way of thinking will never yield a righteous life, just like the speed limit will never change my heart and make me want to be a responsible driver. Righteousness does not come from making sure we have followed our thousands of laws, or from our personal devotions, or from our own effort at all.
The blesseds (beatitudes) that Jesus speaks are not a list of attributes we SHOULD have. They’re a list of people who “fit” in the kingdom of God. He’s not saying that we have to be poor in spirit and then we’ll get the kingdom of God. He’s saying that the poor in spirit are the blessed ones in the kingdom of God. The blesseds are not really a call to certain kind of life as much as a description of the kingdom of Heaven. They give us a glimpse what the kingdom of Heaven looks like. It’s a place (not really geographical) where the meek, instead of being cast down like they are in the kingdom of the world, rule the earth. It flips everything on its head.

The story of Abram and the Sermon of Jesus connect us to the reality of righteousness. Righteous living does not reside in rules and checklists. It resides in the heart behind the law and the checklists. The righteous person, like Abram, will live by faith, believing that God will do what God has said God will do.

Jesus’ incomparable sermon is not a list of rules that will make us righteous; it is the sermon from the One who will make us righteous.


2 thoughts on “The Righteous Life

  1. i get that, and have fought with it on two levels. one, what is it exactly that God said he will do? and two: how and when will he do it? i’ve never had reason to question God’s providence in terms of day to day things. i Have lacked nothing material and have been provided for admirably. but in terms of spiritual growth, and outward manifestations of inward change i do wonder what he means when he says “greater works then these ” john 14;12. two verses after abram is credited with righteousness, he asks a very human understandable question of God- How will i know that i will inherit the land? and he kills some animals, protects them from scavengers and gets a nightmare where God tells him the future. Are my blind, opulent north american eyes too distracted to see the truth of what God is doing in my life? Abram was rich off ill gotten gains when he had the vision. God is sovereign. he doesn’t owe me special powers. but i would like to better know what promises to claim and which ones to leave off claiming… i suppose too that i read the bible pretty personally. God isn’t just knocking on the door of my heart, he’s knocking on the door of the church.

    the heart behind them. well i can submit that to God as well. Change my heart. make me love Good things and hate bad things. God said he would do that for his people right? heart of stone to heart of flesh. And if i have faith, and believe that he will make me love what he desires, then that act in and of itself can be considered righteousness in his eyes? And if i ask God how he plans to orchestrate my conversion, How i can know i will inherit the kingdom he has promised me(us), will he answer? Has he answered anyone of our contemporaries that we know of?

  2. imagine being told that your descendants would be enslaved for 400 years. i wonder at God’s constant reassurance of Abram. The personal promises. The generational ones. i suppose the blessed’s could be looked at as a promise too, of inheritance and possession and fulfilment. Faith is hard when God says something hard. not one jot or tittle, salt that loses it’s flavour is good for nothing…

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