E11: Pursue righteousness – you won’t regret it!
PODCAST: Listen to this inspiring interview with Sam Petkau about what righteousness means for a young adult!
You are young. You may think, what is righteousness? Why should I care about pursuing it? What’s in it for me? In this podcast episode, Kathy and Eunice interviewed Sam Petkau who has an enlightening take on righteousness that certainly inspired us. We hope it’ll inspire you too!
Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 11: Pursue righteousness – you won’t regret it!
This is ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we explore the different aspects of the gospel according to the Bible, and how we can put it into practice in daily life.
Eunice: Welcome to Episode 11 of this podcast, “Living the Gospel.” I’m Eunice.
Kathy: And I’m Kathy, and together we work on the editorial team of ActiveChristianity.
Eunice: That’s right, and we actually work together quite a bit, and we have been digging deeper into the topic “righteousness.” It’s not really a word that you so often hear in day-to-day conversation. Do you think it’s a boring, heavy topic Kathy?
Kathy: I don’t think it’s a boring or heavy topic. Especially now as we’ve been researching it, I realize more and more that in everything that we do, righteousness is actually the key. And as far as I could count, the word “righteous,” when I look it up in the concordance, is mentioned 588 times in the Bible, so that kind of gives you an idea of how important righteousness actually is.
Eunice: That’s right, and I think that righteousness is something that is so deep and there’s so much to learn and discover from there. And, for my own part anyway, I think that the more I put it into practice, it actually makes life better for not only me, but those around me. I think it’s a lifetime of learning.
Kathy: It’s actually written that the kingdom of God is righteousness, amongst other things, so if I learn to be righteous, and I get a hold of this personal righteousness, then I actually get the kingdom of God within me. And so, then it’s not just about being righteous in outward things, like paying my bills and my taxes, but it becomes a righteousness that’s from the inside out; I become righteous in my inner being, actually.
Eunice: Although that’s also pretty important to pay your taxes …
Kathy: Of course!
Eunice: A couple years ago I had an interview with Sam Petkau from Brunstad Christian Church Vancouver for an article for ActiveChristianity, and it was about the benefits of righteousness. It ended up being a pretty long, deep, fascinating interview about righteousness, which really … I went back home thinking a lot about it, and it made me realize that righteousness is so much more than I had ever thought about.
Kathy: Yeah, and of course I read that article you wrote based on that interview, and I also was able to read the interview notes that you did. And then we thought, we should get more out of this topic, so … I want to hear more about it myself, and we thought the listeners probably want to hear more too, so we’ve invited Sam here today so that we can chat some more with him on the topic of righteousness. So, welcome Sam.
Sam: Thank you.
Kathy: So, in the interview that you did with Eunice, you talked about why a young person, specifically, should be thinking about righteousness. Why should a young person even care about being righteous, right? So, if you were to speak to a group of young people, how would you explain what righteousness actually means for them?
Sam: Well … yeah, righteousness has consequences, and that’s why it’s so good for a young person to think about it. I think if people would think more about what happens as a result of what I choose to do today, then they would be more interested in making the right choice today. So, for young people to think about the future: “What results will this bring in my life and in the life of those around me?” And then you become very interested in doing it right today, because if I do it wrong today, then I have to reap that down the road. So, for young people especially, to become interested in righteousness is very important. Really important!
Eunice: And that’s kind of, not really something as a young person maybe you think so much about, what the consequences of my actions today are.
Sam: Right. Very often that’s the case. Probably in the majority of people that’s the case. The whole atmosphere, the spirit of the times is: Do what you want today, don’t think about tomorrow.
Sam: Enjoy, yeah. Have a good time and tomorrow will bring whatever it brings. And of course, then you have to reap a grim harvest. It’s not nice.
Eunice: You talked about choices, making choices that would benefit your future, so what would you say – say for a 21-year-old – what would righteousness look like for them in terms of choices they make, practically speaking?
Sam: Well, practically speaking … Abraham, he was a young man at one time, and it says he believed God, and that was counted to him for righteousness. So, there are many things that attract a person’s, – especially a young person’s attention – and they attract their resources, especially what they do with their body, there are many things, but it says Abraham believed God. So, for a young person to make that choice, that in my life I will believe in God, so that when all these other voices begin to speak from the things in the world, that you have already established that I believe in God, I believe in God’s Word. Because after this life is over, it’s Him that I’ll meet. And I want that to be a happy day.
Kathy: So, it becomes a foundation for life.
Sam: Right, yeah. When Paul wrote to Timothy, who was also a young man, then he said to him, “Pursue …,” and the first thing he mentioned was righteousness. But what had he, if you’ve ever read that part in Timothy, what he had been speaking about just before that, was that anyone who desires to be rich will pierce themselves through with many sorrows. That’s what he’s writing about. And then he says, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. So, the love of money is actually the root of many unrighteous choices, and the things in this world that attract … if I choose to pursue them then I will come into a life of unrighteousness and it bears the results. Because the day comes when money can’t get you what you want or need. So, I would say the first … what is righteousness? First of all, it’s to believe in God. And what is the first enemy of righteousness? The love of money. That’s what I would say. What do you think?
Kathy: Would you say that stems from … like love of money is a result of love of self in a way, right?
Kathy: And that is almost like the opposite of righteousness, isn’t it?
Sam: Yes. God didn’t create us to be focused on ourselves and our own advantage. He created us for fellowship, to have friendship, and to have it good together. And that’s why righteousness is so important. That means … the root word is very critical here: “right.” To do what’s right for those in my surrounding. That’s the best thing a human being can do if they want to have a good result in life. So, selfishness … I agree 100%, selfishness is the unrighteousness that we’re born with.
Kathy: If we are saturated with selfishness as humans – that’s natural, right – how do we then become people who learn righteousness? And how do we learn to do what’s right when it is actually our nature to actually serve our ego actually?
Sam: Yeah, I don’t know of any other way than to follow Jesus in His example. That’s how we learn. It’s written in Galatians there, that Jesus became the righteousness of God. So, if I don’t get to know Him, I really have no hope of coming out of my unrighteous pursuits. Righteousness, that is the personification of Jesus Christ Himself. He loved it, He just loved to do what was good for people around Him, in honor to His father. Not to get honor for Himself. That’s very common, many people do good deeds, but their name is still attached, you know. Even an artist, they paint a beautiful picture, but in the bottom corner they have to write their name, and that’s how we generally are with good deeds. But, to come out of that and to start to honor God with my deeds, so that it benefits mankind, it benefits people around me. That is the only way, and that is to get to know Jesus. I have to get to know Him, and I won’t get to know Him without suffering the loss of my self-will. You can’t do it. I can’t pursue God’s will and maintain my own will. So that’s the key and that’s why the word of the cross for us is a fantastic rejoicing. This is my way out of selfishness.
And we know that the whole spirit of the times and the whole atmosphere of this world is more and more … revolves around one’s own person. And that’s why so many of these things in the world are getting so much momentum. Like the drug culture, and all that. Who does the person think about? They think about themselves, and the more they do that, they become addicted to self. They’re actually addicted to self. So, if it doesn’t benefit me, I’m not interested. Think how horrible to live in that kind of a society. I mean even here in North America. What was it that built up this country? It was the spirit of community. People thought about one another, they helped one another. If somebody’s house burned down then the neighbours were there, they were there the next day to build a new house. And that was just on an earthly basis, but nevertheless they thought about each other. And today’s culture is isolating people in the midst of the crowd because they think of their own advantage. It’s horrible. But the righteousness of God, that teaches me to think about the others and to pay the sacrifice that it takes in order to serve them for their best. Fantastic life!
Kathy: Can you give us maybe a couple examples of … like in day-to-day life, what kind of choices can I make that are righteous choices?
Sam: Right, and obviously, another part of this self-culture is social media, and so, that’s something for young people really to think about. Think what the long-term consequences of burying myself in social media, and that doesn’t give me time to do what’s good for the others. I follow my own interests. It’s written in the Bible that their delight is in the law of the Lord and they meditate on it day and night. That’s the right thing to do. It says God put eternity into their hearts, and so when we waste our time with temporal things, then we lose that eternity that God put there. There’s nothing wrong with going on the internet. We all use it. But, is that my delight? Is that where I go every spare minute I have? And then maybe for a young person, maybe the house needs to be cleaned up for company coming, or something, but they don’t have time to do that, or these are just small things, but to think about the use of time is … I mean, if I want to be a servant, I have to think about what I’m doing.
And then of course a practical example of righteousness is to pay your way. Pay your own way. And sometimes people of course are incapacitated for one reason or another and they need monetary help, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But the mindset … We have been given a body. Paul said, present it to God. But our bodies are driven by a mindset. By attitudes. Attitudes drives our bodies. And regardless of the capacity of my body, the attitude can make it as effective as possible in paying my own way, but I have to have the mind to work. I have to think about, how am I going to do this?
If I sit back and relax, and then my friends come, and they say, “Hey, let’s go out for dinner!” “Oh yeah, but I don’t have any money. Oh, I’ll just leave my wallet at home and then somebody will pay for me …” And it’s a very common attitude today. And it filters all the way up to the multitudes that think the government should pay for me. “Well after all, I’m a citizen of this country so, they should pay for me!” That mind is grossly unrighteous, that somebody else will pay for me. So, I would really encourage young people in this area to work hard! Put your body to work as much as it can and pay your own way. And what is the result of that? Of course, you get together with other people who want to pay their own way. And as a result, you rejoice together, and you have fellowship together, and you have a future together. You’ll never be isolated and alone in that attitude of mind.
Eunice: You even have a surplus for other people, not only that you take care of yourself and everything …
Sam: Right, yeah, that’s God’s mind. That’s how He did it. He gave. His love led Him to give. And that’s how true love is too. Real love, if we love one another, then we are very interested in giving to one another. Whatever it is, if it’s money, or if it’s good words, or if it’s a helping hand … we become very interested in giving. That’s another thing you could say: Righteousness is giving. And that’s why it leads to peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. It’s the doorway into peace and joy. There is no other doorway into lasting, true peace and joy, except righteousness. It’s everything.
This is a good topic, isn’t it?
Eunice: It’s a lot to think about.
Kathy: Definitely a lot in it.
Sam: It is a lot to think about.
Eunice: I was just thinking, what you’re talking about here is actually a complete 180 degree turn of a mindset, and it’s mindset, in a way, to suffer, and in a way to give, and in a way to not do what feels good at this moment for the future. So, for say a young person, what would be the motivation to take up this mindset, to have this mindset to suffer first, or to do what’s best for the others, not myself …
Sam: Of course, it’s written that without a vision, people cast off restraint or perish, so if you don’t get a vision of the future, then it’s very difficult. It’s very difficult to give up what’s good for me today if I have no vision, no purpose. And Jesus had it the same way. It says, “Who for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross.” So, it’s the same, we use that law in every … I mean, just look around. If a soccer player… a young boy wants to be a soccer player, what is the first thing he learns? It’s to sacrifice of course. He gives up time with his friends. He gives up certain foods. He starts to exercise early morning when he doesn’t feel like it. He keeps running when he’s dead tired and doesn’t feel like it. Think of all he does. Why? He’s thinking of the future. And that gives him the energy and the power and the complete surrender over to what it takes in order to reach that goal. And that’s really our responsibility is to be able to create the vision of eternity for one another.
If you think about the Christian life, our life and our attitude and our work should give people a longing for something that this world can’t give them. Because God has put eternity into our hearts. And therefore, when we live by these laws, because of the goal that’s ahead of us, then very often there is absolutely zero advantage by appearance today. Today it looks like loss. But down the road … This is so real, that every human being has to acknowledge that when you stand on the edge of your grave, it doesn’t matter what you own, it doesn’t matter what people think of you. Nothing matters except that you’re now stepping into eternity. And think to make that a happy day, rather than seeing it as a day of loss. We look forward to it. Because then our battle has been done; our work has been done.
And that’s why it’s also written there in Revelation, the wedding garment, or you could say the eternal glory that those who have loved Jesus will wear, is their righteous deeds. And it’s not because they had an outward appearance of righteousness, but like the five wise virgins, they paid the price inside. They gave up their own will, in the deed. And that was well-pleasing to God and that will form a garment. And that’s the goal ahead of us, to be there when Jesus comes. Oh, what a purpose then, what meaning that gives for a young person today when they have to choose whether to live for God!
Think about the future, think about … OK this gives me a temporary fulfillment, but what … extend that line. Young person, extend the line! Learn to be an extender! Extend the line of your choice today, just draw the line! Where does it go? Does it lead you into an eternal glory with Jesus? Then make that choice! Make it quick and fast and firm. I will live for Jesus and this is not part of it! What my friends are all doing now, that’s not part of it, and therefore I choose not to do it, and let them do what they want with me. And that firm decision, that will make a person already happier and happier in this life. And Jesus demonstrated that, when it says that He loved righteousness and hated iniquity. Therefore, He was anointed with the oil of gladness. That means it cost Him something. The oil of gladness above His companions. But we can be anointed with that same joy.
Eunice: I think that has given us a lot to think about.
Kathy: Yeah, I agree. It’s been incredibly inspiring to sit here and talk about this and to …
Sam: Yeah, for me too.
Kathy: I know for myself, like, that it’s something that I want to fight for, every day of my life for sure. It’s something that I’m going to look forward to: that eternity instead of living in the day-to-day like we talked about. I live for eternity, not for just the moment. So, I’m so excited for that actually, to go and do that!
Sam: I’m very glad I can sit here and talk with you about this. This really has strengthened my faith and my resolve to follow the Master, so thank you very much.
Eunice: And I remember a couple years ago when I interviewed you, then those words came back to me over the past two years. Things like, for example when I’m making a choice, then it came back to me: Righteousness means doing what’s good for the others, so is what you’re doing now, is that actually going to affect the others in my selfish decision? And, kind of over time, it’s had its effect in me, and I think after tonight, after this interview I’m going to be thinking about these things for a while. And thank you for that, and that’s definitely words that I’m going to be working with as well.
Kathy: So that’s actually all the time we have planned for this episode tonight, so thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with us today.
Sam: Likewise, thank you.
Eunice: If you want to read the article that we’ve referenced a few times in this episode, we’ve included a link in the episode description, or you can look it up at /. The article is “Righteousness: An investment with incredible long-term results.”
We’re also going to include an extended version of this interview on Youtube. So if you want to find out more about what it means that righteousness is a catalyst for growth in our society, and what a kingdom that’s ruled by righteousness could look like in eternity, remember to check out that video.
Kathy: So, thank you to everyone for listening today, and we really hope that this has been as inspiring for you as for us sitting here, to listen to this, and that you’re inspired to pursue righteousness, as Paul wrote it. So, we’ll say goodbye for today, and remember to tune in again next week.
Eunice: See you next week.
Eunice and Kathy: Bye!