Thanks for entertaining the sweetness
of ‘righteous.’ It was fun to start there. But we should of course explore the true heart of thinking about things that are right – it’s most common and full meaning.
I’m a big fan of gotquestions.org. They are knowledgeable, concise, Scripturally-based, helpful, informative, responsive… and for someone like me, addicting! Seriously, it’s a bit like “Choose your own adventure!” You start with one question, then you’re clicking on another link, then another, then another. It’s a fun journey of growing in our understanding of God and His Word. So this is their definition of righteousness:
The Bible’s standard of human righteousness is God’s own perfection in every attribute, every attitude, every behavior, and every word. Thus, God’s laws, as given in the Bible, both describe His own character, and constitute the plumb line by which He measures human righteousness.
We see this – guess where? – right back in the Christmas story! : ) John the Baptist’s parents, Zecharias and Elizabeth, were ‘righteous in the sight of God.’ Luke 1:6 seems to define this as ‘walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.’
So righteousness pertains to God’s own perfection – not ours! Remember We’re not in heaven… yet!? It’s primary question is, ’Will it happen in heaven?’ Take, for example, baseball. If there is baseball in heaven, what will that look like? Will it look like hitting a home-run every time? I actually don’t think so. I kind of think that’s logically impossible. For a hitter to have ‘perfection,’ it would mean hitting a home-run every time, but for a pitcher to have ‘perfection,’ it would mean throwing strikes every time. Very, very tricky for both to be true! So it seems to me that this isn’t the type of ‘perfection’ God calls us to. It seems that there will be both strike outs and home-runs in heaven… the difference in heaven will be the absence of things the Bible talks about – like shame and blame.
So when we think about things that are righteous, we think about God’s own perfection – His standard, not ours. We measure things using the plumb line of things that are in His Word, not our opinions.
Let’s say we’re in a meeting, and we think our boss should have run the meeting differently. So we get all frustrated and bent out of shape that he should have done this and not that, and this other thing too and not that. That’s nice, but what is God’s perfection in that situation? If we use His Word as our plumb line, where do we stand?
So we search, and we search. We can’t find anything in Scripture about how the meeting should have been run and whether it should have included this or that (when ‘this’ and ‘that’ both are non-sin issues). But His Word – our plumb line – does remind us how malleable are the hearts of leaders in the hands of the Lord!
The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD;
He turns it wherever He wishes. ~ Proverbs 21:1
If the Lord desired for our leader to do this versus that in the meeting, He could make it happen! And especially if the leader is someone who has the Holy Spirit living inside of him, we can pray that the Lord would quicken the Holy Spirit in him to lead in perfect alignment to God’s will… and that He would quicken the Holy Spirit in us to keep our thoughts on God’s plumb line of perfection — not our own : )
As we continue to search Scripture, we still cannot find anything about whether this or that should have been included in the meeting, but we do see that we are to honor our leaders and help make it a joy for them to lead:
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. ~ Hebrews 13:17
Note that Scripture says not just to gloss over respecting our leaders, but to actually have confidence in them: Πείθεσθε. Vine’s defines the command this way: “‘to persuade,’ in the Middle and Passive Voices signifies ‘to suffer oneself to be persuaded.’” The verb is in the middle voice here, so it indicates that in regard to our leaders and their authority, we should “suffer [ourselves] to be persuaded.” So if something is going to thwart God’s blessing in this situation, it is more likely because of our lack of suffering ourselves to be persuaded to our leaders – that is in God’s plumb line of His Word! – and less likely because the meeting wasn’t run exactly like we thought it should be. It’s no accident that the next verse is
Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. ~ Hebrews 13:18
So not only are we commanded to suffer ourselves to be persuaded in regards to our leaders and their authority, but by doing so, we can also conduct ourselves honorably in all things. And as if that weren’t enough, it is ultimately for our good!
Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. ~ Hebrews 13:17
So the plumb line for righteous behavior – and for our righteous thought – is God’s Word. Hmmm…it’s just as Scripture says! : )
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for … training in righteousness… ~ 2 Timothy 3:16