Righteousness – A catalyst for growth (2/2)
VIDEO: Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone was righteous?
We all agree that the society we live in is far from perfect. Yet, we know that the little things we do or don’t do can make a difference to those around us, and in our community. So, how will my righteous choices lead to growth in society?
Righteousness is the key law in God’s kingdom (Hebrews 1:8). What would a world that is ruled by righteousness look like in eternity? Understanding this is our motivation to make righteous choices today!
Don’t miss Part 1 of this interview: Pursue righteousness – you won’t regret it!
Eunice: So Sam, we’re continuing our discussion about righteousness, and we’ve talked about what it means to be righteous and why a young person should care about being righteous, so I remember when we had our interview a couple years ago you said something super interesting, that righteousness is a catalyst for growth in our society. Could you tell us a little more about that?
Sam: Well, Paul said it actually, quite simply. He said the kingdom of heaven does not consist of words. And especially in our society today, with all the social media and the communication systems, there are unbelievable words travelling every which way. So, when all my righteousness is in words, what will it do? What growth does that bring? Only words. Like, Paul also wrote, if you say to your brother, oh, go be warmed and have a good meal, but you don’t do anything to help him, what good are those words?
And I think that’s the greatest downfall of our human nature, that we feel that by putting something into words, we’ve done the job. But there’s zero growth from just words, and that’s why … then he goes on to say, the kingdom of heaven does not consist of words but of righteousness, peace, and joy. So that means action. And action brings growth. When you consider the things that should grow, and that is love, care, kindness … all those things should grow, but they grow because of the action I take. Not just because of the words. It’s very common nowadays, people say, “Love ya! Love ya!” Okay, but what does love do? It serves the other person for their best. So then that person contradicts me. Suddenly their opinion is 180 degrees opposite to mine, and suddenly, where’s the “Love ya?”
Kathy: So, good intentions aren’t enough.
Sam: They’re not, no they’re not enough. They don’t do it. They’re necessary, but by themselves they don’t do it. And that’s also what James wrote very clearly, he said, show me your faith without works, and I’ll show you my faith by my works. Not by my words. And James had many good words; he wrote some of them down, but I believe he had a lot more good words. But that’s not all he had. He said, I will show you my faith by my works. And that brings growth. And obviously, if you see a person, say Eunice here, going down the highway and you have a flat tire, and Kathy comes by, and she stops, and she says, “Oh Eunice, that’s really too bad. I hope it goes well,” and vroom, off she goes. And you don’t know how to change your tire.
Eunice: No, I really don’t.
Sam: But think of how stupid that is. I have faith that Eunice will do fine out there, so I wish her well, but I don’t make an ounce of effort to help, to actually follow through. The words alone won’t bind you two together. But if Kathy stopped and says, “Eunice, do you know how to change that tire? I can help you! I’ve done … my dad taught me how.”
Kathy: He did.
Sam: “I’ve done this lots of times.” And she’s strong. Out she comes out of her car, and changes your tire for you. Now, growth has happened, and it came by action. And that’s why I think it’s written so clearly the kingdom of heaven does not consist of words.
Kathy: So how do I do that if I don’t feel like it? I know for myself, I’ve discovered many times, like, you want to do the good, but I don’t have it in me to do it sometimes, right?
Eunice: You don’t feel like it.
Kathy: Yeah, I don’t feel like it sometimes, right? So how do I come away from that? How do I do it when I don’t feel like it?
Sam: Yeah, that requires faith. You have to do it by faith because your feelings and your reasoning and your interests won’t always be a help to you. So, you have to step outside of your comfort zone, outside of your parameters you could say. In faith, knowing that this is the right thing to do. This is righteous. It would be good for me to do this now. And not to pull into that equation all the other things. Well, do I feel like it, do I like doing this kind of thing, is that really me? All those things that people generally, those considerations … They don’t give us power to obey.
And when you think about what righteousness produces, righteousness which is from God by faith, that righteousness leads us to wisdom, and wisdom is what we need in order to bring about growth and development. You can’t build anything without wisdom. So, we have to get wisdom, and wisdom comes by the obedience of faith. And so, when you do it then … and you might even think, I don’t even know how, I’m not that kind of a … I don’t … well how am I supposed to do this?
When you don’t feel like it, and when you don’t think you can do it, but you see the need, then that’s the time when we pray out to God. “If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask.” And there’s far too little of that, we have to admit. “Let him ask.” And God gives liberally, so that wisdom that we need to do what’s right in the sight of God and for our fellow man, that wisdom is very often just one “ask” away. God is ready, but we didn’t ask. And that’s what it says in … I think in the book of John too, you have not because you don’t ask. And why wouldn’t a person ask? Because of self-sufficiency. So, it’s a good catalyst and it brings good growth, and that’s the growth that we long to be a part of.
Eunice: Would you say that … since we had talked about how righteousness is the opposite of self-seeking, would you say that that also is catalyst for growth of people stop seeking their own in their own situations? And also for the community?
Sam: Yeah, for sure. Obviously, selfishness is the opposite of, even humanly speaking, of community spirit. Selfishness is the opposite. A person wants to sit at home and watch television or … They don’t do that anymore I think, they watch iPhone or whatever … You want to sit at home and watch that, but the community has a garbage pickup day, and people are up and down the street, picking up garbage, making the community nice, but I’m sitting and looking into a screen. Of course, how will that bring growth in a community, in a society? That attitude.
A consumer society cannot go on, it cannot exist. A consumer society implodes at some point, obviously. Because if everybody’s just doing what is good for me, pretty soon you don’t have a society. It falls apart. Disintegrates. The very fiber of a society rots away by selfishness. It’s absolutely horrible. We ought to hate selfishness far more. Self-centeredness, self-consciousness, all those things that exalt or are an image of self. We think we are something, when we’re nothing. And all these, they cause so much trouble, and eventually the fiber of society rots and you have anarchy and chaos. So, righteousness is key to building a society.
Kathy: One day righteousness will be the society that we live in, right, when we’re in the kingdom of heaven. So, what do you think a kingdom that’s ruled by righteousness like that will be like?
Sam: Yeah, well think about what’s written. Think about the words that are written in the good book. That book that we ought to love more than anything else on the earth. It’s written there that there … But there will be nothing that causes harm. Think about that little statement. Nothing that causes harm. Not a harsh word. Not a thoughtless deed. Nothing that causes harm. Not even to the least of the least of the children. That will be a result of righteousness. Everything will be done for the very best of everyone in that kingdom. There will be no tears. There will be no pain. The tears will be wiped away. There will be no sorrow. That is the kingdom of righteousness.
And that goal, we ought to have that before us constantly. That’s where I’m heading. That’s where I’m going. And then God can give us light. What you said there, did you realize what it did for that person? Did you see their face drop a little bit? Or did you see that child who was in heaviness for one reason or another and you had nothing to give to that child? There’s nothing you could say? But in the kingdom of heaven, if we’ve learned that here, then we will be along in wiping away every tear. And there will be rejoicing on every hand.
And our Master, the One who opened that way into that glory, the glory of virtue. Think about a kingdom with 100% virtue, 100% love, 100% kindness. And the degree that we have come to in this life we will be able to add. We will have a part in that “100%.” 100% of thoughtfulness, respect, and all those good virtues. Patience. Think how easily we get impatient now, but if we learn patience … think one day to be among people who are 100% patient.
And Jesus standing there as the captain. He’s our captain. We belong to Him. He is the personification of everything that’s good. And if young people can really get that vision that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of virtue, so when you love Him and follow Him and obey Him, you’re loving goodness and kindness. You’re obeying gentleness and meekness. And you’re doing what He did when He was on the earth. And then one day, of course, we will … we belong to Him. We have crucified thewith its desires to live selfishly. We’ve crucified that. We have no conscious agreement with that ever again. And then, He teaches us the things that belong to that kingdom. And then one day, when He comes again, we belong to Him. He’ll take us.
And it doesn’t matter what the world thinks. What people think. There’s such an antagonism now in the world against true Christianity. What does it matter what they think, and what they do to us? What they say about us, what does it matter? We know where we’re going. We’re going into this kingdom of 100% goodness. Nothing but kindness and gentleness. So that’s worth every second of fighting for it and making choices in that direction.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.