By Johnie Paul Edwards
Solomon, to whom God gave wisdom, said, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). Solomon learned the value of righteous living. He came to recognize that only in God can a man find real significance and lasting satisfaction. This is the legacy that Solomon wished to leave behind to subsequent generations who earnestly search for life’s highest good. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon’s conclusion was, “Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13).
What Is Righteousness?
The word “righteousness” is translated from dikaiosune and is defined as “the character or quality of being right or just; it was formerly spelled `rightwiseness,’ which clearly expresses the meaning. Righteousness embraces the idea of the right knowledge in the mind, leading to the right action in life” (W.F. Vine). Hence, righteousness is doing right and refers to the state of one who is such as he ought to be before God and man.
We can know what is right, know what we ought to be and do, only as God reveals in his inspired Word. Paul taught that God’s plan for making a man righteous is revealed in the Gospel (Rom. 1:16-17). Peter taught that “in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:35). The Psalmist revealed that God’s “commandments are righteousness” (Psa. 119:12).
The Value of Righteous Living to Noah
Noah was “a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). Noah’s righteous con-duct, amidst wickedness (Gen. 6:5), caused him to find “grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). Noah’s righteousness is demonstrated in the fact that he did “all that God commanded him” (Gen. 6:22). While every living substance was destroyed upon the face of the ground, righteous Noah and his family were saved (1 Pet. 3:20).
The Value of Righteous Living to Abraham
The Scripture says, “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God” (Jas. 2:23). Abraham was justified by his works and by works his faith was made perfect (Jas. 2:21-22). Abraham’s supreme test of righteousness came during his mature life in his willingness to offer up Isaac, his only son, whom he loved passionately and in whom all his expectations centered (Gen. 22:1-10; Heb. 11:17-18). Righteousness is seldom easy, but through Abraham’s faith and righteousness he became the friend of God and the one through whom Jesus, the Savior, came (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 3:16).
The Value of Righteous Living to the City of Sodom
The value of righteous living can be seen when you consider that ten righteous souls would have delivered the ancient city of Sodom (Gen. 18:23-32). Since less than ten righteous people could be counted, two angels went to Sodom to visit and warn Lot of the impending destruction (Gen. 19:lff). “The Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire . . . and he overthrew those cities” (Gen. 19:24-28). Sodom’s wickedness and moral depravity even became proverbial (Rom. 9:29; Rev. 11:8). Righteous living would have spared the now “lost” city of Sodom!
The Value of Righteous Living To Israel of Old
Righteousness had the power to strengthen and exalt the nation of Israel. As long as Israel was righteous, no power could overthrow them, and other nations would say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people” (Deut. 4:6). God watched over Israel (Deut. 32:10) and assured those living righteously of his blessing (Deut. 11:26-28).
Righteousness was the basis of God’s dealing with other nations (Jer. 18:1-10). Where are the ancient nations? Where are the great empires of Assyria, Babylon and Persia? Their sin and unrighteousness worked their ruin!
The Value of Righteous Living Today
As demonstrated in the past, righteous living is still of great value. The value of righteousness today is seen in the fact that:
Righteousness gives us access to God. When we do right, or live according to the Gospel of Christ, God’s eyes are over us; his ears are open to our prayers (1 Pet. 3:12; Prov. 15:9).
Righteousness bears good fruit (Prov. 11:30). Righteous living is not only profitable to you, but to others. You can win others to Christ through righteous living. Jesus taught that his disciples are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:13-14). Further, the work of the righteous is peace (Isa. 32:17). No money on earth can buy true peace. True peace comes only to the righteous!
3. Righteousness will be crowned. Since Paul “kept the faith” there was laid up for him a “crown of righteousness” (2 Tim. 4:8). The righteous can “look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness is life, and in the pathway thereof there is no death” (Prov. 12:28).
Are you numbered among God’s righteous? Righteous living, amidst wickedness, is the only thing that will mean anything eternally! You will either die the death of the righteous or the death of the wicked (Num. 23:10; Ezek. 33:11). The choice is yours. Please, for your sake and the sake of all future generations, do what the Bible says and be what it makes you, living righteously!
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 9, p. 10-11
May 6, 1993