Affirming Righteous Decisions and Opportunities
"For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness." (1 Timothy 6:10-11, NASB)
First Timothy 6:10-11 makes a contrast between pursuing money and the things of this world (v 10) and pursuing the Christ-honoring qualities that define a blessed life (v 11). God in His wisdom continues to provide solutions for those of us who want the blessed life -- we cannot get it when we go after the things of this world. God giving you some money and material possessions is wonderful. Attaining them as the by-product of a righteous life is great. You can live knowing that "your lines have fallen to you in pleasant places." But that is not to be the focus of your attention. God knows that a focus on material possessions and money will corrupt the pursuer, whether you attain them or not. There is nothing wrong with material possessions unless they become your god.
If we are going to pursue the qualities that the apostle Paul laid out for us -- righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness -- we must do much more work in understanding these qualities and ideas, because these are on the pathway of the blessed life.
Today, let's take a look at the quality of righteousness.
As you might guess, righteousness means doing that which is right. It is the Greek word dikaiosune, which means conforming to what God requires. In Scripture, there seems to be two ideas within the idea of righteousness -- positive righteousness and negative righteousness. Positive righteousness is doing right things that benefit God, others, and yourself. A shorthand list of these actions are the fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Negative righteousness is about avoiding that which harms God, others, and yourself. A shorthand list of these ideas is the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20:3-17.
In every life situation, God has a right (righteous) way of conducting oneself. In general, this means looking for the choice, action, or words that give God glory (gives Him the credit, magnifies His goodness), allow others to win, and oneself to win. This is what I call "the triple win," an idea synonymous with wisdom. In a listed fashion that is more concrete, the 10 Commandments shows us the areas in life where the line crosses over from positive righteousness to negative righteousness causing God, another person, or oneself to lose in some way. It is these moral lines that our society is trying to blur or loose, because without them, there is far more room to gain personally at another's expense.
You can determine if some opportunity or decision is righteous by simply running it through the grid of the 10 Commandments. Doing so will definitely give you a much clearer picture of whether it can lead to the blessed life God has for you. Some of you may be able to look at past opportunities and past decisions through this grid and gain new insight as to why they did not work.
Ask yourself this question and run it through the main principle of each of the 10 Commandments. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you, writing them down as He points out the answer.
Do any of the opportunities you are presented with and the decisions you are faced with require that you or others _________________________________.
... make something else more important than God? (You shall have no other gods before me.)
... misrepresent God in some way? (You shall not make an idol for yourself.)
... blaspheme God, live a lie, or use God's name falsely? (You shall not take the Lord's name in vain.)
... overwork, neglect worship of God, or live out of balance with faith, work, rest? (Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.)
... require rebellion against a righteous authority? (Honor your father and mother.)
... require murder, violence, anger, or the threat of violence to move forward? (You shall not murder.)
... require or lead to sexual unfaithfulness to your spouse? (You shall not commit adultery.)
... require stealing another's property? (You shall not steal.)
... require false witness, fraud, or deceit of a neighbor? (You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.)
... require scheming to possess the relationships and benefits of others? (You shall not covet.)
A "yes" answer to any of these questions means that the opportunity or solution to the decision you are facing is not moral and cannot be the will of God. It will not ultimately lead you in your path to the blessed life. Remember "the triple win." You want God to win, others to win, and yourself to win. These opportunities and solutions lead to the blessed life always.
My hope is that you'll delve into this idea of righteousness and "the triple win" that God will move you forward in faith toward the blessed life. I look forward to interacting with you during your spiritual journey. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how God is working in and through your life. Your greatest life is just ahead in 2017!
In His service,
Deep Happiness: The Eight Secrets
Principles To Live By is proud to announce that Gil Stieglitz was recognized as the 2017 Illumination Awards Bronze Medalist for his book Deep Happiness: The 8 Secrets in the Self Help/Recovery category. The Illumination Awards are designed to honor and bring increased recognition to the year's best new titles written and published with a Christian worldview. We're proud of you Gil! Way to go! Visit Amazon.com to get your copy today!