Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
In Colossians 2:8 we read: Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. I find this scripture interesting because it portrays being led astray as simply adhering to the basic ideologies of this world – which aren’t always so different from what we believe. In reality, such a concept can leave us with a “close enough” kind of spirituality, where we make our own rules based on the principles of this world, while interweaving a few of God’s as well. Such an approach, however, will eventually take us completely off course. Instead of seeking God’s righteousness, we use the rules we’ve made up to label ourselves as “good people”. And when we make this choice, we put self above God, placing Him out of our reach.
A Good King
To look at this from a Biblical perspective, study Daniel 6. In this chapter, we read about a king named Darius. His governors and satraps convinced him to put a decree into place, stating that no one could pray to any other god or man except for the king, for the next 30 days. If anyone were to break this rule, they would be punished by being thrown into the lion’s den. Unfortunately for King Darius, Daniel broke this rule by continuing to pray to the one true God. I say unfortunately because King Darius was fond of Daniel. In fact, we read in Daniel 6:14: And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
Nevertheless, there was one problem. Once a king made a decree, it could not be changed. The king, who could be considered a good person for trying to rescue Daniel, had no choice but to concede. Having realized there was nothing left he could do, King Darius stated in verse 16: “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” And King Darius was right. Nonetheless, how did Daniel get into this situation in the first place? Well, simply stated – King Darius was leading from a place of self. If the king had truly served God, he would’ve never issued a decree that was anti-God or hurtful to Daniel, knowing that Daniel worshiped God. Yet he did, and herein lies the problem with settling for being a “good person”. We stop striving for God’s righteousness because we’re blinded by contentment in our own goodness.
Yet What is God’s Righteousness?
To define righteousness, I searched the NKJV Bible to find out when this word first appeared, and in what context. It’s first found in Genesis 7:1. The scripture states: Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation. But what does that mean, that God found Noah to be righteous? Well, if we turn back one chapter, we find the following description of Noah in Genesis 6:9. The verse reads: This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.
There are several passages in the Bible that discuss the idea of walking with God. I’d like focus on two. The first is found Colossians 2:6-7. The scripture states: As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. To walk with God requires that we receive Him, exercise our faith, and have a spirit of gratitude. Now this gratitude isn’t about finding happiness in all situations. Instead, we are to be thankful for our ability to connect with Christ, no matter the circumstance. Now, these choices aren’t always the easiest choices, particularly when darkness tries to unsteady us. Yet to be righteous, we will have to grapple with the darkness while holding fast to God’s commandments, trusting in Him wherever He takes us.
The Impact of Our Choices
The second passage is found in Proverbs 14:2. The scripture reads: He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him. Some of us are secretly despising God. We might be angry at our circumstances, God’s commandments, and/or His call for us to stand apart during these chaotic times. Afterall, one might think – who has the energy for all of this? The truth is that it might be easier in the short-term to fit in, give up, reconfigure God’s commandments, or cave in to our vices. Just think of Samson. His story is a reminder that we pay for our choices. Whether it be in the short-term or long-term, the cost is usually higher than what we’re comfortable with giving up.
On the other hand, when we align with God, He hears us and connects with us in ways that bring about peace, closure, and comfort. In James 5:16 we read: Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. This is one of my favorite scriptures because it gives us cause and effect. Should we choose righteousness, we are able to go to God in prayer, without doubt, knowing that God will hear and act upon our requests. However, should we choose self, we’ll erroneously pass off our standards as God’s commandments which leaves us in a place of disconnect. Consider Proverbs 28:9 which states: One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.
So, is it enough to be good people?
Well, it depends. For some, the answer is yes because their focus isn’t on God’s kingdom. Nevertheless, if you do desire to be aligned with God, then the answer is no. It’s not enough to do what you think is right or create your own set of standards because it makes you feel good. It’s not okay to make excuses for hurtful behavior, because it’s something that doesn’t happen all of the time. We don’t get a pass because we don’t like our church members or think that a pastor has taken it too far. Maybe they have, but he or she isn’t the standard. God is, and His standards haven’t changed.
No sin is greater than another in the eyes of God. We mustn’t fool ourselves into thinking that God isn’t too worried about some of the choices we’re making. He’s concerned about them all because our choices are a reflection of what’s in our hearts and souls. Every time we choose our own selfish desires, we are not choosing God. It takes time in the word, honest reflection (even when uncomfortable), and spending time in quiet communion to allow the Holy Spirit to bring conviction to our souls. Ultimately, we will have to answer for our choices, and our silence. So let’s be sure we’re really okay with the ones we’re making.
#GodBless from #LovesAnActionPrint This Devotional