Righteousness Defined

I know that we often use the phrase, “You have to know my heart.” And that is true, but that is not defined in the Bible as righteousness. It might be distinguished as a good intention, a noble thought, or the potential for future actions. But the“potential” of follow through has never done any good.

A life of faith is based on action. A life of fear is built on the avoidance of action.

No marriages were ever strengthened because one of the spouses really wanted to have a better marriage. No schools were ever built because someone really wished a school could have been built. No churches began because someone really thought one should, and their heart was for healthy churches.

Let’s take a look at an unlikely person considered to be righteous in the book of James:

“In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:25-26)

Rahab was not considered righteous because of what she believed. She wasn’t even considered righteous because of her learning. She wasn’t considered righteous because of her intentions, her theology, nor her ability to teach on Christianity.

It was only due to her ACTIONS.

Without action, there is no righteousness. Righteousness requires an actual investment of time, energy, and money. It will require taking a risk, and having less because you gave, or invested something you could have kept. You cannot please God by “playing it safe.”

There was once an old farmer sitting on his front porch overlooking 50 acres of field. A visitor asked him, “You gonna’ plant it in cotton?” “Nope,” he said. “Might have boll weevils.” “So you gonna plant corn?” “Nope.” Prices may go down.” “SO you gonna plant vegetables?” “Nope.” He replied. “Might have insects.” “So what you gonna plant?” “Nothin’,” he replied. “Just gonna’ play it safe, this year. Just gonna play it safe.”

You can’t play it safe and please God. Righteousness without any proof, without results, is not righteousness. Good intentions maybe. It could even be a covering for procrastination, a fear of failing, or downright laziness. But it isn’t righteousness.

Is there any proof that our faith is righteous? Can people actually point to something as proof that we have faith?

“That the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:7).

It’s not time to be religious, nor is it time to have only good intentions. Oh, it may begin with intentions, but righteousness comes when those intentions are finally converted into reality.

It’s time for a new reality, not for more lofty intentions. If we are satisfied with only good intentions, then we will develop a propensity to inaction and the avoidance of involvement.

A Leader’s Prayer:

Lord, convert my dreams into reality, my hopes into action, and the energy to follow through on each one. Give me patience to be OK with incremental improvement, so long as it is provable. And help me to steer away from ever using as an excuse for inaction, the phrase, “Well, you have to know my heart.” Instead let it be something people can point to as proof of faith, for that which is more precious than gold. Then people can point to something good and say, “Yes, there is the proof of his heart.”

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