July 15, 2014
“Those who want to do right more than anything else are happy. God will fully satisfy them.”
Matthew 5: 6
A Righteous Life
“Righteousness” – Doing what is right. Genuine. True. Being honorable and just in dealings with others.
“The truly righteous…produce the fruits of grace in their actions.”
Clement of Alexandria
“What is righteousness all about?”
“Finally, be strong in God, and in the power of His might…have on the breastplate of righteousness.”
Ephesians 6: 14
Not long ago, I read a most enlightening story that goes to the heart of our question today:
Here is the story I want to share with you:
“The year was 1977, and the month was September and the place was Moline, Illinois. That pre-Christmas season, Terry Schafer had a special gift she wanted to purchase for her husband, David. Her fear was that it might be too expensive. Oh, it wouldn’t be too expensive for some families, but when you have to make ends meet on a policeman’s salary, it would be too expensive. She kept it on her mind as she wandered along Fifth Avenue, hoping to find something like it or perhaps the very thing she had in mind.
Sure enough, she did. She slipped into the store and looked into the face of a kind shopkeeper and asked, “How much?” “$127.50.” Ouch. Her anticipation turned into disappointment as she thought, “That’s just too much for us. We can’t afford it.”
And then an idea popped into her mind. She said to him, “Though we don’t know each other, perhaps you would allow me to put it on hold. I can pay a little now, and then about the end of October, I’ll come back and pay you more. And, I promise you, by the time you have it gift-wrapped before Christmas, I’ll pay the last amount.”
A seasoned businessman, he knew a trusting soul when he saw one. So he smiled and said, “I’ll tell you what. Since your husband is a police officer (as she had talked to him about that), I have every reason to trust you. Why don’t you just give me the first payment? I’ll gift wrap it and let you take it with you today.” She was elated. She walked out with this wonderful gift she was so anxious to give him.
And like a lot of us, she wasn’t able to keep the secret. So that night as David unwrapped the gift, Terry stood there beaming. He was thrilled at her thoughtfulness and covered her with hugs and kisses. Neither one of them realized, however, how significant that simple gift was. As a matter of fact, in the not-too-distant future, it would be the difference between David’s life and death.
On October 1, that same year, Patrolman David Schafer was working the night shift and got a call on his police radio. A drugstore robbery was in process. Racing to the scene, he arrived just in time to observe the suspect getting into his car, starting the engine, and speeding away. Quickly David switched on his siren and began the pursuit. Three blocks later the getaway vehicle suddenly pulled over to the side of the road and stopped.
The suspect was still seated behind the wheel of his car as David cautiously approached the suspect. As he got about three feet from the driver’s door, it flew open and the suspect fired an automatic pistol once, sending a .45-caliber slug toward David’s stomach.
At seven o’clock the next morning, Terry answered the door of the Schafer’s home. Carefully and calmly, the police officer explained David had been shot while trying to apprehend a robbery suspect. As the officer detailed what happened to David, he had bad news and good news. When she listened to the story, Terry Schafer was thinking how glad she was she didn’t wait until Christmas to give her gift, how glad she was the shopkeeper had been willing to let her pay for it later. Otherwise, David Schafer, shot at point-blank range with a devastatingly deadly .45-caliber pistol, would surely have died. But the good news was that he was still alive and in the hospital – not with a gunshot would but a deep bruise in his abdomen.
Christmas had come early that year because David had with him the gift of life his wife could not wait to give: his brand-new bulletproof vest.
And that’s why Christ came, to give us a vest of righteousness, to pay the price with His blood, that He might protect us with a shield that sin could never penetrate.”
In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Only in the Lord shall one say, I have righteousness and strength to achieve…In the Lord shall all…enjoy righteousness” (Isaiah 45: 24, 25, Amplified Bible).
Righteousness is a free gift, given to us by our Heavenly Father. But this isn’t the only good news. When Jesus came to earth, He told us in Matthew 5: 6, that if we hunger and thirst for the gift of righteousness – we will be filled. We will be satisfied. During the past couple of days, as we have studied about the craving we get for food when we are hungry and the longing we have for water when we are thirsty – we are given a Heavenly picture into the desire that needs to be in our hearts for the “righteousness” we are offered as a free gift from God.
This isn’t all! Once we accept the gift – just like the vest that protects the chest of the person it is on, God’s righteousness protects us from the attacks of evil around us.
What is “righteousness” all about? It is about accepting God’s free gift that will protect me, secure me, and save me from death. Righteousness is Heaven’s dearest and best gift – it is the gift of the Son.
“But now the righteousness of God has been revealed…namely, the righteousness of God comes by believing with personal trust and confident reliance on Jesus Christ. And it is meant for all who believe.”
Romans 3: 21, 22
“O God, that I might cease to flee Your clouds of mercy offered me, that I might cease to spurn in fear Your mighty grace that hovers near, that I might come to turn around and firmly walk on holy ground.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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