Summary: Conclusion of the series focusing on how living a wise, rigtheous life brings God’s blessings.
We are finely in the last week in our series on Proverbs as we have explored God’s wisdom in making the right choices for our lives.
In Proverbs, Solomon points again and again to the fact that the best choice wise people can make is the choice to be righteous, and we discover that those who are righteous are the ones who are blessed by God.
What does it mean to be righteous?
Perhaps the word “righteous” conjures up negative images of a “self-righteous” individual, an annoying super Christian, who thinks they are superior to everyone else and looks down on others for their lack of faith [have a picture of Dana Carvey’s church lady]. But this is not righteous.
Righteous or righteousness has two basic meanings in the Bible: 1) we are living in a right relationship with God,
NIV Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
The righteous run to the Lord, he is their strength and refuge. But what does that look like in real life? I think it looks like a person who walks with God.
and 2) we consistently do the right thing. By doing the right thing I am referring to following God’s commandments, doing God’s will.
NRS Proverbs 20:7 The righteous walk in integrity-- happy are the children who follow them!
Integrity here means we are walking upright or in the ways of the Lord. It does not mean we are perfect but we are consistent in following God. When we walk with integrity we are the same person at church as we are by ourselves as we are at home as we are at work. In other words a person with integrity does the right thing consistently.
The second part always comes from the first part. Our doing the right things must comes from our right relationship with God. If we get the order wrong we become self-righteous because we are not doing them from the power and strength of our walk with God.
We see this clearly in the NT. We discover that being righteous has less to do with how many good things we do, but in what we believe in faith. The Apostle Paul pointed back to the first book of the Bible, Genesis, to remind us that Abraham believed the promise God made to him to make him into a great nation with many descendents (even though he was 75 at the time and didn’t have children either), he trusted God in faith and the Bible says “it was credited to him as righteousness (Gal. 3:6).” Abraham was called righteous by God not because of anything he did, but because he trusted God’s promise in faith. The Apostle Paul goes on to explain that we too are called righteous not by our good works or following God’s commandments, as good as those are, but by believing in God’s promise to us. God’s promise to us is that Jesus took the curse we were under for our sin when he died on the cross (Gal. 3:13), and when we believe this in faith we are declared righteous and therefore able to live in a right relationship with God though faith in Jesus. No amount of good works will make us righteous, only God can do that by faith, therefore no one is able to boast about it. If you have taken that step of faith here this morning you are righteous, no matter what you think of yourself.
Once we are declared righteous through faith, God expects us to live right too. If we believe God has declared us righteous, and set us free from sin, now we must live right, otherwise it’s like spitting in the face of what God did for us.
Once we understand what being righteous means for us as Christians we can go back to Proverbs to see God’s wisdom for living right, or doing what righteous people are meant to do, consistently and how God promises to bless those individuals.
I. Behaviors of the Righteous
What we discover is that righteous people do the very things we have been covering over the last several weeks. I will move quickly over these because they are a review of where we have been over the last seven weeks. If you want more details you can get a tape copy of that particular topic. What do the righteous do? The righteous:
1. Are humble and teachable
Put aside their selfish ambition and pride. When we have pride we are not teachable, we think we know the answers, we don’t need help. Being humble and moldable and shaped by God may include: seeking the counsel of godly people from time to time, getting their advice, and receiving disciple or correction or criticism and asking if the Lord is trying to tell us something through other people.