From Praying the Names of God Week Twenty-Three, Day Two
Righteousness isn’t a popular word in our culture. Yet righteousness is essential to our happiness because it involves being in right relationship or right standing with God and conforming to his character, fulfilling our responsibilities toward him and others. But righteousness is impossible for us to achieve, no matter how much we might long for it. It comes only as God’s gift to us through faith in his Son. When we pray to the Lord Our Righteousness, we are praying to the One who has intervened on our behalf to restore us to his likeness and therefore to fellowship with himself.
In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness. (Jeremiah 23:6)
PRAYING THE NAME
There is no one righteous, not even one. (Romans 3:10)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
Praise God: For his absolute integrity.
Offer Thanks: That God does not abandon us to the power of sin.
Confess: Any apathy about living a righteous life.
Ask God: To show you the depth of your need for him.
The word “righteous” isn’t a word you’re likely to hear at work, at home, on public radio, or network TV. Though it may conjure images of the popular singing duo the Righteous Brothers (at least to the over-forty crowd), it is far likelier to make us think of religious prigs, people who alienate us with their smug, self-satisfied views.
But the Bible speaks of righteousness as something altogether different from self-righteousness. To be righteous is to be in a right relationship with God and with others. Rather than suffering the misshaping power of sin, the righteous bear a striking resemblance to God, not in terms of his power but in terms of his character. They display his faithful love, his mercy, humility, integrity, and justice.
Furthermore, the Bible states that God hears the prayers of the righteous. He blesses their homes, smooths their paths, grants their desires, rescues them from trouble, and makes them prosper. But here’s the rub: Scripture also says that God is the only One who is completely righteous.
This truth came home to me recently while I was praying for someone who seems far from God. That’s when I read these words from John Henry Newman: “For it is in proportion as we search our hearts and understand our own nature . . . in proportion as we comprehend the nature of disobedience and our actual sinfulness, that we feel what is the blessing of the removal of sin, redemption, pardon, sanctification, which otherwise are mere words.” It suddenly occurred to me that I should pray not only for this young woman to know the love of Christ but also for her to know the state of her own heart so that she could recognize the depth of her need. How could she ever find her way home if she didn’t even know she was lost?
Let us today prepare the way of the Lord by asking him to make us and those we pray for hungry and thirsty for righteousness. The righteousness God bestows through faith in his Son is the path to re-creating paradise, to gaining heaven, to enjoying the unbroken fellowship with God and each other that our Creator intended since the world’s beginning.
Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.