What do you think of when you hear the word righteous?
That is the question that started the post on 3/26. It fits well today as well.
In that post, I said that the idea of “righteous” is more than about something related to the mind, it involves actions. And, I believe, that is part of why Paul wrote that Scripture was profitable for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3.16).
I differentiate between teaching and training. Both are similar, but to me, training must include something hands on. Teaching should include application at some point, and that application will include doing something, but training must (at least, in my mind).
So, what could training in righteousness include? Well, in the past couple of posts (not counting April 2, Good Friday), we have seen a few examples, but today, I want to move to the Old Testament book of Micah.
In Micah 6.8, we are told that the Lord requires of us to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God. Let’s briefly look at each of these.
To do justice sounds a little odd. We often hear of seeking justice, but to seek justice truly means to look for justice. To have justice, action is required. The actual Hebrew word here carries the same idea as in Genesis 2.4 where it says God made the earth. To make something requires action. So again, to do justice is to be active in seeking justice.
The question is, what qualifies as justice? In our society today (and really throughout much of history), justice differs from person to person. So, we must understand justice from the standpoint of righteousness. Ultimately, the justice we are to do is the justice that God desires. For that to happen, we must think righteously, in order that we can then carry out a righteous justice.
I realize that this idea is not as practical as some would like. As I have mentioned previously, we may know God is righteous, but we cannot fully know what that means. Therefore, we may not be crystal clear on what God wants from us as we seek to do justice. But admitting we do not know all of the answers leads us to the two items.
The next item is to love kindness. Doing justice and loving kindness might sound as if they are separate ideas. But a practical way to look at this is to consider kindness first. When we see a wrong we tend to want justice, but oftentimes that justice can include some level of hostility. So, that is where kindness come into play.
Notice that the wording is not be nice. If we have hostility within us, and we choose not to do something, then we can say we were nice enough not to do what we wanted to do. But niceness is mostly passive. That is, we can be nice without doing anything bad or good. But kindness requires that we do something for the benefit of another. Therefore, instead of being hostile, being kind would require us to do something positive. Furthermore we are to love doing it as the verse says.
Can I just admit that that is hard? But if it was easy we would not need to be trained in righteousness. We do not need training on things we know. We might need training to improve, but not in areas where we may be experts. But in the area of loving others and being kind, well, I imagine most everyone needs some level of training. And when combining the ideas – to love kindness – well, I doubt anyone, but Jesus, was an expert. Therefore, we need training in righteousness.
And that leads us to the third point which is walking humbly with God.
IF we do justice and IF we love kindness, we might have a tendency to think pretty highly of ourselves. But even IF both of those ideas are true, we are still far from who we were meant to be. But BECAUSE no one is perfectly just AND kind, then we must learn to be humble with God, and that includes our walk with Him.
Now, obviously, the verse is not talking about a literal walk. But think about what happens when you walk with another person. Generally, you engage in conversation, and share details about life. If we are walking with God, then we can be engaging in conversation as well, but being humble should have us listening more than we are talking.
So, if we are humbly walking with God and are listening at least as much, if not more than we are talking, then we will be learning what it means to be righteous. The learning will be natural because God is righteous so anything that we learn will help us to understand righteousness better and, in turn, give us the opportunity to become more righteous. Thus, walking humbly with God is to be trained in righteousness.
And as we are trained in righteousness by walking humbly with Him, and learning from Him, we will gain insights and ideas into doing justice and loving kindness. Thus, we see that the whole process is a cycle and the cycle is about not just knowing, but being (and living) righteous (ly).
So, we have taken a good look at the profitability of Scripture as Paul stated it in 2 Timothy 3.16. As we seek to redeem the time, we will return to Scripture as part of our spiritual disciplines, but for now, we are moving to another discipline for a while.
That next discipline is prayer, so I hope you will continue to read as we begin to consider how prayer can help us redeem the time.
REMINDER: If you wish to watch these posts in video form, I am live most every Wednesday at 7 pm on our church’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-ruMRCdzAaaTo1hiDyzwOg. At present, the video is the post from the prior week. During the weeks I am live, you can post questions and comments during the livestream if you wish.