Isaiah 51:1, 7 “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord:
Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts:”
This chapter is addressed to God’s faithful people, and it’s interesting to see how they are described. The issue is not perfection, but direction. Verse one speaks of pursuing righteousness. Quite frankly, we are surrounded by unrighteousness, and we ourselves are certainly tainted by it. That isn’t good, but it becomes a far bigger issue if we become satisfied with, or even resigned to, that situation. We need to be active in our pursuit of God and His righteousness. That is exactly the terminology Jesus used in His famous statement about God’s provision: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) Then we have what it says in verse seven, of having God’s law (the Japanese says teaching) in our hearts. Many times the Bible speaks of the danger of having God’s Word in your head but not your heart. The Pharisees who opposed Jesus were a prime example of that. They doubtless could quote huge chunks of the Bible from memory, ignoring the fact that what they had memorized spoke of the very One they were opposing! It is only when we let God’s Word penetrate our hearts that we are protected against sin and unrighteousness. (Psalm 119:11) God has many wonderful promises for those who fit this description, but we need to be seeking God and His righteousness, rather than pursuing the promises.
I am frequently reminded that this applies to me. As I have written many times, I feel like James 1:22 was written expressly for me, though certainly not just for me. Growing up in the home I did, being blessed as abundantly as I have been, there has always been the temptation to be satisfied, to plateau and not press in further. That is very risky! I won’t lose my salvation, but I would hardly be eligible for the “Well done, good and faithful servant” that I so deeply desire. I’ve got to remember that, like Paul, I can never say I have “arrived” while I am on this earth. (Philippians 3:12-14) As a pastor, I desire that attitude for those in my care. I seek to encourage daily devotions, because hearing truth directly from the Lord through His Word is far better than hearing it from my mouth. I want us to be a people who individually and collectively match the description here, so that we will be fully useful to the Lord for whatever He wants to do through us, for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me indeed seek You and Your righteousness consistently, on every level, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!