Summary: Three of the many incredible benefits of being God’s children.

We’re in the series, “Made to Count, Am I Living a Life that Matters?” and so far we’ve seen that FELLOWSHIP and LOVE are integral parts of making our lives matter.

If we want to live in a way that brings both recognition to God and significance and meaning and joy to our lives we need FELLOWSHIP with Christ and His followers, and we must practice a life of LOVE. Not just LOVE for our selves. But love for others and especially LOVE for God.

Today we add a third word to our list of key concepts that make life worthwhile: RIGHTEOUSNESS.

RIGHTEOUSNESS has to do with being “right,” or “just.” A person who is RIGHTEOUS is a person who is right with God and acts justly because of it. So this word has to do with our standing in the eyes of God, but it also has to do with how we behave.

When we obtain a right standing before God because of our faith in Christ, then it shows up in how we live. Once we become RIGHTEOUS we live RIGHTEOUSLY.

Don’t get uptight and inwardly defensive about this word just because it’s been abused. It’s a great concept. Often when preachers talk about RIGHTEOUSNESS a lot of people think we’re talking about a list of man-made rules. Or that we’re talking about something that takes the joy out of our lives.

One minister said, “The church, by and large, has had a poor track record of encouraging freedom. She has spent so much time inculcating in us the fear of making mistakes, that she has made us like ill-taught piano students: we play our songs, but we never really hear them because our main concern is not to make music but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch.” (Robert Capon)

That’s a pretty insightful comment. And I hope that I never leave the impression that God wants us to walk on eggshells when it comes to RIGHTEOUSNESS. This word is not about having the fun smothered out of your life. It’s actually about being set free to truly enjoy life! It’s not about "refusing" joy it’s about "infusing" joy into your existence!

It’s like our first two words for chapters one and two of First John. Our first word was fellowship, talked about in chapter one of First John. A lot of people think, “Oh no, I have to become a part of a church fellowship and that’s going to crimp my style.” The truth is, church fellowship can crimp your style if you go about it in the wrong way. But if you have the proper kind of fellowship with God and His church your life becomes more meaningful.

Last week in First John chapter two the key word in that chapter was love. The culture around us advertises the idea that we need to love ourselves above everything else and that, when we do, we’ll be living a life that matters; we’ll be extremely satisfied. But the truth is, when we put God on that first level of love, then love others, then love our selves the right way – that is when we will be living a life that matters.

I hope you’re beginning to see a pattern.

Now John comes to the theme of RIGHTEOUSNESS in chapter three. Our key verse is 1 John 3:7.

"Let no one deceive and lead you astray. He who practices righteousness [who is upright, conforming to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action, living a consistently conscientious life] is righteous, even as He is righteous." 1 John 3:7(Amp)

We’re investigating the word RIGHTEOUS because RIGHTEOUSNESS is another integral part to living a life that matters. If we want to enjoy life to the capacity that God created us to enjoy it, if we’re going to experience the fullness of His joy, then we’re going to have to experience Christ’s RIGHTEOUSNESS so that we can live RIGHTEOUS lives. We’re going to need to live lives where we conform “to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action.” We’re going to need to live “a consistently conscientious life.”

RIGHTEOUSNESS is not only misunderstood today. In the First Century when John wrote his letter, people also got confused about it, and how it had anything to do with living a meaningful life. So we’re going to see today how John clears up those misunderstandings.

So what is the connection between RIGHTEOUSNESS and living a life that matters?

When we make a faith commitment to Christ we inherit a set of truly remarkable benefits, and are the kind of blessings that truly make life count!

The third chapter of 1 John begins with an incredible statement that is followed by a listing of these perks.

Here’s the incredible statement in verse one:

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