“In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” 1 John 3:10-11
What is the essence of righteousness?
As a child going up I would have probably told you obedience.
If you’d asked most of the first century Jewish population what the essence of righteousness was they would’ve probably said that it was obedience too. The reason for this is obedience to the demands and dictates to the Law was the focus of their lives.
But what was the essence, and focus, of the life Jesus lived as he gave us an example of what a righteous life ought to be like?
Jesus seemed to wake up every morning with one question on his mind, “What am I gong to do today to show people that I and my Father love them?”
And then he filled his days with healing peoples hurts, blessing their children, forgiving their sins, raising their dead, and communicating God’s acceptance.
I think we focus far too much on stopping doing the wrong things. When I say this I’m not saying that we shouldn’t exert effort in overcoming the evil and hurtful habits that far too often control our live. Too frequently those habits are like addictions controlling our lives and unless there’s a concentrated effort to overcome them they’ll destroy us and possibly even those around us. But I also think that an important part of an over comers strategy will be to fill his, or her, day so full of living a loving life, always looking for new ways to love and new people to show that love to, that there’s little room left for our sinful dysfunctions to show themselves.
It sounds simple but it’s not easy. The drive of the sinful heart is to serve self. And the focus of God’s love is to serve others. Every step as we move toward righteousness is a step against the current of self that rushes at us. But there’s joy in the effort, and peace, and hope.
Jesus has already shown us that it’s possible to be victorious in the face of the rushing tide of self that infects our world. He proved to us that there’s joy in the journey, albeit mingled with pain and difficulty. And he’s promised us that if we’re born of him, if we’re children of God, we have heaven’s help to guide our way and strengthen our steps.
Let’s fill today with love.