Isaiah 11:5 Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
The Japanese translators had trouble coming up with more than one word for an item of clothing you put around your waist, so they used a slightly arcane word for the second instance of waist instead. To me, the point of this verse is that righteousness deals with our relationship to God and His laws, whereas faithfulness deals with our relationship to the people around us. We are back to what Jesus said were the first and second commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40) That the same imagery is used for both here is an indication that they are essentially inseparable. If we aren’t treating the people around us right, then we aren’t relating rightly to the God who made both us and them. This is something that Jesus dealt with frequently in relation to the Pharisees, and James really hammered in his letter. It is rather meaningless to claim to love and follow God if we fail to demonstrate His love to the people around us. Frankly, this can be a difficult issue. We think we love mankind, but specific individuals really get under our skin! That’s why Jesus’ words, recorded right after He taught us the Lord’s Prayer, hit so hard: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15) I don’t think that gets preached on very often! We aren’t called to be doormats, giving people permission to do anything to us, but we are called to forgive, no matter what they do to us. That is exercising both righteousness and faithfulness, and that is the example Jesus set.
By God’s grace I’ve never been one to nurse a grudge, but I will certainly confess to having room to grow, both in loving God and loving my neighbor. Sometimes I have trouble loving myself! The point is, I’m never to be satisfied with where I am, and I’m never to give up on growing to be more like Jesus. That doesn’t mean I’m to be constantly picking at myself by any means, but it does mean I am to recognize that my own righteousness and faithfulness are inadequate, and allow the righteousness and faithfulness of Christ to flow through me by His grace. And that includes loving me, because He certainly does!
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for yesterday and all it held. Thank You for Your plans for today as well. Thank You that I can trust You to carry me through this very busy season. I do ask Your anointing on the two class Christmas parties today, that the students will not only have a good time but especially that they would receive the Gospel as I tell the story of Jesus, from conception to resurrection. May Your righteousness and faithfulness through me draw them to repentance and faith for their salvation, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!