The last two days, I have focused on Matthew 6:33 which says, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Yesterday, I discussed what it meant to seek the kingdom. Today I want to focus on how we can seek righteousness. As I have mentioned before, the because the Greek verb "to seek" is in the present active imperative, the writer is stating that the pursuit of righteousness should be continual and active. This is not a one time occurrence that happens at salvation. Pursued righteousness should be a focal point of the believer. It is not simply right living that we should seek, rather we should desire to live the way in which God lives. We should devote our behavior to his standards.
I have heard much debate as to whether it is actually possible or not to achieve complete righteousness on earth. That is not what this blog is about. Rather, it is about how we can pursue righteousness. God tells the people of Israel in Isaiah 1:16-17, "“Wash yourselves. Cleanse yourselves. Remove your evil deeds from My sight. Stop doing evil. Learn to do what is good. Seek justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow’s cause.” Here in these verses we see that righteousness includes the omission of evil, the addition of good, the accountability of others, and the defense of the needy. James writes it more concisely in James 1:27: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
When it comes to righteousness, a pictoral image is an unstained garment. There is no residue of sinful behavior, selfish ambition, and ignorance of others. Rather, it is pure and clean due to living justly and seeking justice for others.
So how is this pursued on a daily basis? The first way is to know the character of God through his Word. If you do not know his character, it is hard to emulate. The second way is to start evaluating not only your actions, but your motives. The third way to pursue righteousness in your life is to begin to have a consciousness for the needs of others.
A righteous young man might not make it to the top of his company, but he will know that he never harmed anyone or took unfair deals to advance himself. A righteous young woman might not be seen as the most desirable by the world's standard, but she kept herself pure and modest in order to honor her God.
What is your current standard of righteousness? Is it everyone else, or is it God?
How can you increase your standard of righteousness this year?