I first heard this phrase in a bible study by the bible scholar, who calls herself “not a bible scholar”, Beth Moore. When she said the words “Make no Mistake, Righteousness Matters”, it lodged itself into my heart.
Like an iceberg into the titanic, this truth sliced right through the hull of my soul and leaked out rebellion I had been holding on to for far too long. It’s funny that sometimes we can be holding onto something and never realize it…that was so me…except exactly opposite. I was fully aware that there were still some habits and desires that I hadn’t quite let go of. God refines us and teaches us, but apparently I am a slow learner…
I often reasoned with God – or myself – or whichever would agree with me…that my sin wasn’t, in fact, sin. That I could be a leader, I could disciple others, I could be “godly” and still “have fun”. I wasn’t breaking a commandment. Or was I? (Exodus 20:3)
If I were to explain what my hangups were, some of you may gasp and go all religious on me and shake your heads and your fingers. Some of you may say, “What?? I do that all the time, it is no big deal and it surely isn’t sin!”. But the sin for me was not the activity so much as the rebellion. That bit of my old self that I wanted to hang onto ever so tightly, you know…just for fun.
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Outwardly, it looked as though I was “living right”. But inwardly, I knew there were these things. These convictions that I kept trying to convince myself were just “guilty pleasures”. And yes, that is exactly what they were.
But guess what, Righteousness Matters. Why?
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
In a world, a culture that says “obey your thirst” (Sprite), “just do it” (Nike), “What is Your Fantasy?” (Victoria’s Secret). It’s no wonder our convictions become immune to godlessness. But friends, the world is watching.
Ever wonder why Christians are so closely scrutinized in the media? Why pastors who have an affair or and arrogant attitude get ostracized? Or godly politicians (yes, they exist) who mess up get raked across the coals when their secular counterparts can do the same thing and…nothing? When we claim to be a child of the only true and faithful God, the only being ever truly trustworthy, shouldn’t we at least resemble Him? Jesus was sinless. So should we be. Is it possible? No. Is it something still worth striving for…absolutely. Because to know Him, is to love Him. And to love Him, is to obey Him. Not out of some religious duty or legalistic code. But out of complete and utter heart surrender to the one who gave it all. Because he loves, so should we.
“For Christ’s love compels us…
And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
There is a whole world of people watching. Watching and waiting for us to mess up. For us to slip up. For us to give up. An enemy that wants more than anything to snuff out that light from our lamp on a hill. So shine, shine bright…and know that even when we fall, we can come boldly to the throne of grace.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
The world is watching. And maybe, just maybe after seeing us, time and again, choose compassion over condemnation, holiness over hate, the sacred over the secular – they will see those good works and what? “Glorify our Father who is in Heaven.” And ultimately, isn’t that why we are here? To know Him and make Him known?
So friends, let’s shine. Because Righteousness Matters.
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity…” Ephesians 5:15-16
Lord, teach me.