“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21)
Christmas season is in full swing now, which means that folks are shopping more, either in stores or online. Maybe you are looking for a specific item for a family member. Perhaps you will go to a likely store or website to see what is being offered, that you may not have thought of on your own. As for me, I am a hunter-shopper, usually looking for that which I think will not just please folks, but enrich their lives, even in a small way. Satisfaction is finding just the right thing, but there is still a lot of guesswork involved, to know how the recipient will use my gift. However, when God says that we will find the righteousness we seek, there is no uncertainty or presumption, only absolute certainty.
The reason we can be so sure about finding righteousness is that it comes from the Lord and not from us. Jesus Christ promises us: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6) Pursuing righteousness has its purest form in our confession and repentance, seeking the forgiveness and mercy of Christ for our sinful desires and self-justification. There are some prayers we Christians pray that God always answers with, “Yes.” “Lord, help me to be more holy, to glorify you more, to have more self-discipline, to intercede in prayer more for others, bear more fruit of the Spirit and to share the gospel. Help me to know what I believe, to believe the truth of your Word, to love more objectively and freely, to be a peacemaker, to see and confess my sin, dying to myself and living for you.” We do not pray these things based on our ideas and desires, but because Christ is working in us, and his righteousness calls us to continue to seek it.
We don’t look for something when we don’t want it; we only look for that which we desire. We develop habits and routines for life, such as having breakfast at a particular time or calling distant family members on holidays. There are areas in which we improve as we age, such as at handling finances effectively. Likewise, we should be improving our pursuit of righteousness in Christ as we mature, not just resting in old habits, having experienced the effects of it in our lives and for the good of others. Our eternal life with God is an ever-increasing joy and wonder when we remember that we have been set free from the entrapments of this world. Our passage speaks of finding life and honor, along with righteousness and we are reminded of Jesus’s promises again, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
Here is my favorite Advent question: “What will you give to Jesus Christ since it’s his birthday and not yours?” What will you pursue (and pray) this Christmas season, for God’s glory as you seek his righteousness?