Many times you read of justice and righteousness together, and when they are established in someone's heart, their life will produce the fruit of righteousness expressed primarily through intimate relationship with others and God.
After doing some reading, on this, I have come to some conclusions for my own life that might bring some clarity to questions regarding righteousness, justice, and peace.
- Righteousness is obtained when you come to agreement about "right living"
- Righteousness cannot come into agreement with the enemies of peace or justice. It is obtained by seeking the "excellent things of Godly inspiration."
- Righteousness is missed many times because of refusing Godly discipline that comes through situations, conflict, and other believers.
Amos 3:1-3 gives us a picture of the Father talking to his children that refused his instructions warnings, and promises.
Listen to this message that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel against the entire family I rescued from Egypt. From among all the families on the Earth I have been intimate with you alone. That is why I must punish you for all your sins. Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?
Many people treat righteousness as a badge that is obtained and then forgotten about. We have scriptures that tell us our faith in Christ is accounted for righteousness, and rightly so. We are also told that Abraham had faith and he obeyed God. His faith also had intentional action. His faith was not just a belief system, it was a trust and yielding to Gods justice that promoted peace and accounted for his righteousness.
"Just do it. Just do right. Just act right!"
Some people will say that righteousness is "right living." But according to who's standards? The bible tells us that man's righteousness is like nasty menstrual rags, and unless our righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the Pharisees we would not see the kingdom of heaven. Wow! Righteousness is best seen through relationship. Is it doing right by another person and the agreed upon boundaries and roles of that relationship.
You don't apply for a job and tell a potential employer what their job should be. You find out if what they are offering and need is something you can agree to.When you hire on, you might undergo peer reviews, and reviews by your employers. There may be policies and procedure that you have to be reminded of via a write-up, or areas that you are admonished to work on. This does not mean employment has been terminated, but growth is expected. Procedures might change, and you are informed or taught something new, but it does not change the relationship of employer and employee. Most people are willing to change in order to keep their job, and desire to please their employer.
We have to come into agreement and be at peace with God and his ways, acknowledging our way is the wrong way. His justice will promote our righteousness. If you do not agree that you were a sinner in need of salvation, adopting a belief in Jesus as a moral badge will do you no good. If you have not laid down your "works as a means for salvation" and believe you are a good person deserving entrance into Heaven, you have not come to agreement that says, "all have fallen short of the Glory of God." Jesus is the way the truth and the light. No one shall enter Heaven except through him. He will teach us his way, the truth about ourselves and shed light on our darkness to promote growth. It is an ongoing relationship that says come as you are, but expect some reviews. You have already been justified by the work on the cross, now submit to the process of sanctification.
Isaiah 32:16-18 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness And righteousness will abide in the fertile field. And the work of righteousness will be peace, And the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places.
Peer reviews are not fun. It hurts our pride to know someone does not think we are the best thing since sliced cheese. We can feed our offense by assuming who said what and thinking about everything that they do wrong. Or we can plan ways to prove that person was wrong by setting them up in situations that will shed good light on us, or bad on them. If we work in a team, and we are not willing to bend to others opinions and suggestions we may be missing a better way. Being a Christian and fellowshipping with others brings us to a place that should make us seek the "Excellent things" or revelations of God. Too often break ups and dissentions happen instead of an agreement to promote peace within the church. A marriage suffers because of stubborn demands of a certain way. Instead of having faith (which is accounted for our righteousness) that Jesus is the head, and will give wisdom for the "excellent way," People and groups break covenant with each other because they refuse peace. Peace is submitting to the work of the spirit, that can't be found in a manual, and takes faith and perseverance. Instead of seeking our way (thorn in the flesh) we should trust the fruit of righteousness that comes from relationship with Jesus, and wait on him. Peace with God and his children go hand in hand with righteousness.
Phillippians 1:9-11 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Making peace does not mean agreeing with everyone, about everything, all the time, but rather knowing, promoting and working for everything that is according to the will of God. It also means that you disagree with anything that refuses or demands you to do somethingthat goes against His will and Perfect love. Peace with God and his way causes us to refuse or hate all that is of our flesh and allows for his Divine nature to be manifested. Seeds that produce the fruit of righteousness cannot be planted in the soil of a relationship where "right living" is ignored or put on the back burner. The Holy Spirit is not going to water your jealousy or unforgiveness but your pride will, and the outcome is devastating. It is not peaceful.
We have weapons that protect us from the influences and attacks of Satan. They are meant to be used together. Ephesians 6 shows us that the "breastplate of righteousness" goes along with and followed by the "shoes of the Gospel of Peace." The gospel or truth of what Jesus did for us, tells us we have peace with him because of his work that makes us righteous. Psalms 85:10 Kindness and truth have met, Righteousness and peace have kissed. This is the picture of the Cross of Christ.
We aren't supposed to just plant seeds of righteousness, or root out thorns of the flesh, but we are supposed to produce fruit. That represents maturity and growth. Some enjoy certain conditions and processes of growth, but others are eschewed. When this happens, we may have the appearance of right living, but it is not reproducible. So first off, you have to compare the thorns or acts of the flesh with the fruit of the spirit that comes from the righteousness in Christ. (Galatians 5:19-23)
The Acts of the Flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies,
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Hebrews 12:11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Discipline leads to fruit. The much needed fruit of righteousness blooms in our hearts during times of trial, through deep exercise of soul. The way one reacts to discipline is a litmus test proving whether we are in agreement with God, or walking in a different direction. If you find yourself walking in a different direction you can always repent (turn around ) and come into agreement with Him. He does not change, but he does forgive, and he will pursue you passionately calling out to you. He uses trials ,circumstances, peer reviews, and suffering to bring about his justice in your life. Many times when we are in a place of denying Gods way, we will hate the things of God. We don't want to be around other Christians; anything they do that may bring on conviction, results in our becoming offended. We receive nothing in our prayer life or bible reading because during our walk with Jesus, at some point when he said,"zig" we zagged and walked right out of the "right way" or righteousness.
Zigging instead of zagging might be hard, but the fruit of obedience is better than not having peace with God and facing justice not coupled with mercy.
Amos 5:6 Come back to the Lord and live! Otherwise, he will roar through Israel like a fire, devouring you completely. Your Gods in Bethel won't be able to quench the flames. You twist justice, making it a bitter pill for the oppressed. You treat the righteous like dirt.
Amos 6:12 Can horses gallop over boulders? Can oxen be used to plow them? But that's how foolish you are when you turn justice into poison and the sweet fruit of righteousness into bitterness.
He resists our effort to go on our own because he has a plan for us, and it is good not evil. Abraham was tested with the sacrifice of his son. He had faith in God, and obeyed. His faith was accounted to him for righteousness. He knew God's plan was for good. What is God's plan for you? It may be difficult, but it is worth it.
Amos 5:24 I want to see a mighty flood of justice, and endless river of righteous living.
Come to agreement, he is right.
Go in his direction.
Seek peace and love justice.
Hate the things that keep you from right living.
Trust that his discipline will promote righteous fruit.