Sunday, July 7, 2013

Proverbs 21:21 Chasing after righteousness

The book of Proverbs is filled with contrasts, comparing the foolish to the wise, the lazy to the industrious, the wealthy to the poor, the proud to the humble, and the wicked to the righteous. Last time we looked at what Proverbs had to say about the wicked. So, naturally, today we turn to what Proverbs has to say about righteousness:

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness

    will find life, righteousness, and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)

Here is a great promise! I love that it tells us to “pursue righteousness and kindness.” When we pursue something, it speaks of diligence. We aren’t just casually looking for something, but we are actively, with purpose and expectation searching for it. There is a sense of urgency. It’s not like looking in the pantry to see if there are any cookies left, but more like searching the entire house to find a missing wedding ring. We must find it! And the reward for diligently seeking righteousness: life - eternal, abundant life!

This verse from Proverbs reminds me of two other great promises, one from the Old Testament and one from the New:

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the Lord. . . (Jeremiah 29:12-14a)

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

God promises that our pursuit will be rewarded. He desires that we come after His righteousness. In fact, Jesus made it a priority:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? . . .But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:25,33)

God’s righteousness is not found apart from finding Him. So if we are seeking righteousness, we are also seeking God Himself. I was thinking about this just this morning. How God wants us to seek Him! He wants us to have a relationship with Him.

This week my younger daughter, Emmy, and her family have been on vacation in North Carolina. And all the while they have been gone, I have been anxious every day for a text, a call, or a posting on Instagram with photos of Beau and Penelope! And it occurred to me that as excited as I have been to hear from them, how amazing that God also longs to hear from me! He delights in us even more than we delight in our families! If we are pursuing righteousness, we are pursuing Him - and that leads to life!  No wonder He wants us to be diligent!

Next time we will look at just what is meant by “righteousness” and then we’ll look at how we practically “pursue” it. We will be bouncing around both the Old and New Testaments to get a better picture.    

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