Pictorial Language Series
There are people that are snobbishly self-righteous – they are better than anyone else and, as far as they are concerned, they themselves can do no wrong. There are also people that feel following customs of a national or ethnic group make them righteous – these are people pleasers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not complete. There are probably other applications/explanations of the word.
For me, righteousness is doing the right things God’s way, using the measuring stick that he provides (e.g. the Bible). Right away, unlike those that are self-righteous, these ones recognize that true righteousness is accompanied with humility, in recognition of the fact that before God, we are mere dust. So then, how can we imperfect humans actually display, possess righteousness like the waves of the sea?
The first mention (that I could find) of a man being counted by God as righteous was Abram (later renamed Abraham). The reason God credited him thusly? It was because of the faith that Abram put in Jehovah. Next, was the instructions that Moses was giving the Israelites and how to explain their worship to their future generations. In Deut.6:24,25, Moses said that righteousness was gained by obedience and observance of all the instructions Jehovah had given them. King David said that God rewards him (David) “according to my righteousness … according to the innocence of my hands.” See also Prov.13:6. (It is noteworthy that David said this because he really was not completely innocent in God’s sight. Yet, as a whole, God considered King David in such positive light that he was spoken of as the progenitor of Jesus. So even after a major failure, we can still rise to Jehovah’s favor again. This reminds me of the proverbial saying: “The measure of a man is not the he falls down but that he picks himself up and keeps going.”)
Isaiah associated righteousness with ones who carried the law in their hearts. This goes beyond obedience and observance to an authority. It is motivated by love of God. Finally (although I could cite many other scriptures), I’ll make one stop in the Greek Scriptures. At 1 John 3:7 we learn that righteousness is a way of life, it is a “practice” we cultivate throughout our lives.
Wrapping it up then, the list below summarizes the ways our righteousness can be developed to be like the waves of the sea (the waves of the sea, out in the open sea, can be relentlessly pounding, overwhelming in majesty and magnitude, and formidable):
- Faith in God
- Obedience to and observance of God’s laws and principles
- Innocence (not disobedient and not deceptive)
- Motivated by love
- A Way of Life, a habit