Righteous; April 18, 2023

Psalms 37:30-31 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks what is just.
The law of his God is in his heart;
his feet do not slip.

Several times in the Bible, particularly in Psalms and Proverbs, there are descriptions of “the righteous.” Here, David starts by what a righteous person says, but then he gives the secret, the foundation of it all: the law of his God is in his heart. This of course agrees with that very famous verse from the longest chapter in the Bible, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11) Without God’s Word, we have no reliable standard to know what is right and just and good. Dennis Prager has put out a video about how unreliable our consciences are, saying that generally, even mass murderers sleep well at night. He’s something of an expert on that, having studied Communism for most of his life. Human reasoning and intellect will always tend toward the self-centered; only God sees and cares about the whole universe. Our very limited perspective is a major reason why we have to rely on God to have any hope of getting things right. However, the benefits of relying on God are without number. David here says, “his feet do not slip,” and that covers a wide range of our life experiences. One thing to remember is that God’s law needs to be in our heart, not just our head. In our head, we compartmentalize and think, “this applies here but not there,” but in our heart it gets to who we really are and works itself out in every area of our lives. That is when we start to become genuinely righteous, and our words and actions reflect the God we serve.

Of course this applies to me. God is the judge of whatever degree of righteousness I might have, but looking at myself I can see plenty of areas for improvement. As I am reminded frequently, James 1:22 certainly applies to me: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” I have been steeped in the Bible from childhood, but I have quite a track record of leaving it in my head and not letting it govern my heart. That’s not being righteous! Of course, legalism is simple and easy, but not very smart. That’s when we let our minds rule, instead of letting God’s heart be in charge. I’m not to let my emotions be in charge either; God is absolutely holy, and how I “feel” about something doesn’t change anything. If I want to be righteous, and I do, I’ve got to stay focused on my Lord (Hebrews 12:2) and speak and act always in full agreement with Him.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I’ll be speaking in class this morning, with a friend this afternoon, and then tomorrow morning I have the message at an interdenominational prayer meeting. And of course, I’ll be interacting with my wife and various other people throughout each day. Help me do every bit of that on the basis of Your Word, Your Spirit in me, and not just out of my own thoughts and reasoning. May I draw people to You by demonstrating You to them, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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