Pursue righteousness

Proverbs 21--21

The Verse of the Day for February 6, 2016 comes from Proverbs 21:21 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible:

The one who pursues righteousness and faithful love will find life, righteousness, and honor.

Moses makes known God’s directive to the Children of Israel in Deuteronomy 6:24-25:

24 The Lord commanded us to follow all these statutes and to fear the Lord our God for our prosperity always and for our preservation, as it is today. 25 Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.’

Psalm 34:14 (HCSB):

Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

In Psalm 85:8-11 (HCSB) we find a prayer for the restoration of favor upon the people of God and the land in which they dwell:

His salvation is very near those who fear Him,
so that glory may dwell in our land.

10 Faithful love and truth will join together;
righteousness and peace will embrace.

11 Truth will spring up from the earth,
and righteousness will look down from heaven.

Isaiah 48:17-19 express Jehovah’s desire for His people:

This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says:

I am Yahweh your God,
who teaches you for your benefit,
who leads you in the way you should go.
18 If only you had paid attention to My commands.
Then your peace would have been like a river,
and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
19 Your descendants would have been as countless as the sand,
and the offspring of your body like its grains;
their name would not be cut off
or eliminated from My presence.

Throughout the New Testament, we find reminders to pursue righteousness which is described as one of the “Kingdom virtues” in Romans 14:16-18 (HCSB):

16 Therefore, do not let your good be slandered, 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever serves Christ in this way is acceptable to God and approved by men.

Matthew 6:33 (HCSB) echoes a similar exhortation to pursue righteousness:

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

Paul also offers sound advice to his “son in the faith,” Timothy, but these words can be applied to every believer:

1 Timothy 6:12(HCSB)

But you, man of God, run from these things,
and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith,
love, endurance, and gentleness.

2 Timothy 2:22 (HCSB):

22 Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

In the New Testament some form of the verb dioko is used in the context of pursuing, meaning to pursue or to follow, to seek earnestly, to run after, to follow after or to pursue until the object being pursued or followed is found or caught. The verb also means to seek after eagerly, earnestly to endeavor to acquire, to go after with the intent to catch, often involving great effort or striving toward the object.

As mature followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we demonstrate our desire for more of the life-sustaining Word of God, as we pursue “righteousness and unfailing love.” The following poem personalizes our yearning for more of God:

The Proof of Desire

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts,

but especially that you may prophesy.

I Corinthians 14:1

 

The proof of desire is pursuit.

Mike Murdock

 

In each new season may our lives abound with fruit,

As we follow after God and seek His favor,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

 

This passion to please is our relentless pursuit,

As we seek to taste His goodness and to savor.

In each new season may our lives abound with fruit.

 

Seasoned trees are strengthened from the leaf to the root,

As we flow with fullness of joy while we I labor,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

 

Though we may seek as silver His wisdom and truth,

This life swiftly passes, fleeting as a vapor.

In each new season may our lives abound with fruit.

 

Having yearned for God’s presence, even as a youth,

We now forsake all to scale the heights of Mount Tabor,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

 

We ever seek the Lord, for we are resolute

To follow in the steps of Jesus, our Savior.

In each new season may our lives abound with fruit,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

 

In reflecting upon the pursuit of spiritual matters, I thought of the lyrics of the Don Moen song “My Soul Follows Hard after Thee”:

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