sundayword: BY PROSPER TINGINI
Righteousness is a virtue. Other words to describe it are blamelessness, uprightness, purity, honour and integrity. When one possesses these qualities, then one is spiritually living in the “likeness of God”. You are then of the “image” of God. That is how the Lord created and wanted us to be.
The first human specimens, that of Adam and Eve, failed humanity in righteousness and as a result brought some upheavals upon mankind. To this day, we struggle to be upright. Thankfully there are always individuals among us born and blessed with moral goodness. Succumbing to sin is man’s biggest weakness.
The first recorded righteousness of man was that of Noah, Genesis 6:9 reads: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.”
The righteousness of this one man saved the human race and all other species from extinction Genesis 6:5-9: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil eventually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them’. But Noah found Favour in the eyes of the Lord.” The rest of what then happened is now recorded history. (Read Genesis from chapter 6-9). Another righteous man, Abraham, was blessed by God because of blamelessness. He was anointed as the father of many nations, whose descendants would outnumber the stars in the heavens. The land of Canaan was also bestowed upon him as an inheritance for a descendant generation of his children. Not only that, but although both him and his wife Sarah were too advanced in years to bear any children, God blessed him with two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Isaac was to be the forebear of the descendant generations of Israel. Righteousness thus brings with it a multitude of blessings from God. The blessings can cascade down to those around the righteous people as an extended blessing.
An absence of righteous people among men could spell doom for mankind, contrary to the presence of righteous people like Noah, Abraham and many others who saved humanity from the brink of disasters. Jesus Christ became the seal for human salvation.
We have the Biblical story of the destruction of the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of the evil practices that had afflicted them. In Sodom and Gomorah’s case, Abraham pleaded with God to save Sodom if there were indeed righteous people within it. Abraham drew near to the Lord and begged (Genesis 18:22-33) “Will you destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are 50 righteous within the city; will you then destroy the place and not spare it for the 50 righteous who are in it? Far be that from thee! Shall not the Judge of all Earth do right? And the Lord said “If I find at Sodom 50 righteous in the city, I will spare the place for their sake.’’ Abraham answered: “Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.
Suppose five of the 50 righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city because of lack of five?’’ And God replied: “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.’’ Again Abraham spoke to him, and said, “Suppose 40 are found there?’’ The Lord answered, “For the sake of forty I will not destroy it’’ Then Abraham said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there?’’ Again God answered: “I will not do it, if I find 30 righteous people there.’’ Abraham further pleaded: “Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose 20 are found there? He answered “For the sake of 20 I will not destroy it. Then Abraham said: “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again this once. Suppose 10 are found there?’’ The Lord answered :“For the sake of 10 I will not destroy it.’’ And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.
Regrettably, not 10 people were found to be upright and the two cities were destroyed. Am pretty sure if Abraham had gone down to just one righteous person, the Lord would have saved Sodom. Even in the absence of a single righteous person, I wish Abraham would have gathered enough courage and faith to ask the Lord to save the cities because of his own righteousness. The righteousness of one person is contagious enough to save the souls of an entire society in the likeness of Jesus Christ as a single person paying for the sins of all, saving mankind’s destruction. There are many other examples dotted in our scriptures where the righteousness of one person saved multitudes of people. Blessed are those with the righteous living among them.
We can learn from the teachings of Apostle Paul, of what practical righteousness is all about. First, he cautions us to be watchful of people who pretend to be righteous, yet they are an evil in disguise. In 2 Corithians 11:14-15, he warns “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.’’ Take heed, in case you be fooled by wolves in sheep skins, or men and women parading in priestly clothing yet they are the children of Satan.
St Paul writes about some of the attributes for righteousness. In Ephesians 5:25-32, he says: “Therefore put away falsehood, let everyone speak the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another. Be angry, but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil, let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. Let no evil talk come out of your months, but only such as in good for moral improvement and godly instruction, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the holy spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.’’
l Prosper Tingini is the president of the Children of God Missionary Assembly. Registration in progress for those who wish to undertake Bible Studies or train as Ministers of Religion. Contact 0771 260 195 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org