Years ago, I met a woman with an amazing story. She grew up unwanted and neglected by her parents which lead to drug addiction, promiscuity and dropping out of school in her teenage years. Although she dropped out of school, God created her with a thirst for learning, and she began to read the dictionary with the goal of learning and using new words every day.
Early in her quest to expand her vocabulary, she came to the word “angel” and read this definition “one of a class of celestial beings; an attendant of God”. She was captivated with this thought, “I’ve heard about angels, but I never knew they were real. Since it’s in the dictionary, they must be real.”
Even as I write her thoughts, it brings a smile to my face. Was she young and naïve? Maybe. But maybe God will use anything, even reading a dictionary, to draw us to Himself.
Immediately, that teen-aged girl began a quest to learn about spiritual realities, and she ended up in a church where a loving family took this young woman with a ton of baggage under their wings. They made her part of a family when she had never had a family. They loved her when she had never been loved. They showed her who God was by the way they lived when she had never known about God.
The family lived out true righteousness for a sin-weary girl, and her heart was captured.
It’s probably been close to ten years since I met Tara, that girl who has become an amazing, godly woman, but her words about how she came to know God still ring in my ears. She said, “They lived out righteousness in front of me, and it was so beautiful.” Those family members lived a righteousness that made others thirsty for God. They give us a picture of true righteousness that I long for in my own life.
True righteousness is marked by humility, because we know it’s a gift we can never earn.
True righteousness stands on the Truth, the black-and-whites of God’s Word, while dispensing grace and compassion for those struggling with sin.
True righteousness always points to God rather than works as the source .
True righteousness happens from the internal to the external, and it takes time (so we make room for messiness in the growth).
True righteousness is focused on God and His work in us rather than the short-comings of others.
True righteousness looks like Jesus…and He is completely beautiful.
If we asked a sampling of people on the street if they think righteousness is beautiful, I think we’d be met with lots of puzzled looks and many “no”s. But that’s simply because the world sees lots of self-righteousness and not as much true righteousness. I know I’ve been guilty of smudging the portrait of righteousness, but I am praying for change in me…in us…. I’m praying the world would begin to see the righteousness of Jesus shining out from His people, and it would be beautiful.
I’d love to hear about someone who has shown you beautiful righteousness. Please leave a comment, and let’s encourage each other!
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