Good News Today recently published a couple of short devotionals on the Bible’s view of righteousness. The author, Jeshurun, reflects on how God’s righteousness is a source of refuge and comfort, particularly to “angry youth” in society today.
The World Despises the Weak, but God Has Become Their Ultimate Refuge and Comfort
The phrase “angry youth” was used frequently a couple of years ago. Perhaps many people had similar emotions to some extent when they were young. This is because we noticed that the society we were in lacked fairness and justice, and so we chose to vent our disapproval at reality through the methods of “angry youth.”
In the Bible there are many teachings about fairness and righteousness. How do we view righteousness? How does the Bible’s view of righteousness inspire us?
We have invited a couple of pastors to guide us in reflecting on the Bible’s view of righteousness. May we live our life on earth through the lens of the gospel.
Without Mercy, Righteousness Is Reduced to a Slogan
When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not go into his house to collect his pledge. You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you. And if he is a poor man, you shall not sleep in his pledge. You shall restore to him the pledge as the sun sets, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you. And it shall be righteousness for you before the Lord your God.
When the Bible speaks about righteousness, it is usually linked with purity. God’s pure law is the standard by which we measure righteousness. When people follow God’s law in their decisions and actions, that is righteousness. Therefore, a person who pursues righteousness is a person who hates sin and evil.
But in today’s passage from Deuteronomy, on the law of how to treat poor people, if I return the only cloak a poor man has in the evening, that is my righteousness. According to typical rules about loans, I would not be breaking the law by keeping the cloak.
This helps us see the deeper meaning of righteousness. Acts that are truly righteous are merciful. Why? Because God cares more about life itself. If we lack mercy for life itself, righteousness is reduced to a slogan.
That is because, the greater righteousness does not call people to die, but calls them to life. Righteousness is not merely pointing out the sins of a sinner and declaring a righteous judgement; righteousness is for building up sinners and giving sinners a new life.
What the righteous God values is not that sinners are punished for their sins, but that sinners repent of their sins. In a righteous court’s judgement, the consideration is not only that the sinner receives an appropriate punishment, but also that the sinner received unmerited mercy and the opportunity for reform.
God’s true righteousness was poured down on us from the cross of his son Jesus Christ: he died for our sins, so that we can live for him in purity.
Righteous God, today I have more deeply experienced how your pure and righteous law displays your mercy. Therefore, even when you discipline me and cause me pain, you are full of love and mercy. I thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
He Is the Ultimate Refuge and Comfort of All the Weak
Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.” As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” . . .
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you killed and also taken possession?’”. . .
1 Kings 21:14-19
Most people might consider Naboth someone who did not know how to go with the times. The king made a good offer on his vineyard, and yet he refused. The reason he refused was simple: “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”
Ahab wanted to overcome everything by his own authority, and simply take anything he desired. But the simple faith of Naboth put a stop to Ahab’s madness. In the end, a trap was laid for Naboth. He was a powerless man, with no authority. One could imagine his end.
In the eyes of those with authority, the life of powerless Naboth was simply a stumbling stone, to be kicked out of the path. This story continually repeats “Naboth was dead,” Naboth has been stoned;” a powerless person’s death is as common as stumbling stones.
The nobles felt that they accomplished the order they received from above. Jezebel felt that she did something for her husband that would please him. Ahab felt that he could now possess the dead man’s property as desired. In short, they moved their stumbling stone out of the way.
But the life of a powerless man, especially a man who reveres God, is not easily covered up. In the eyes of a righteous God, the death of Naboth is the murder of a bright and very real life.
But even though he was killed, his property will not be taken. God will avenge them! The righteous God will not let the blood of the innocent flow freely. God is their final refuge, final hope, and final comfort.
Righteous God, you are the hope of the powerless. When we fall into helpless weakness, may you be our comfort and strength. Amen!
Original Article: 世界轻看弱者，祂却成了他们终极的保障和安慰by Good News Today
Image Credit: Hugo Fergusson on Unsplash.
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