What Does Righteousness Mean?
“The Good News shows how God makes people right with himself” (Romans 1:17 NCV).
Righteousness is a big word in the Bible. It’s used hundreds of times. The Bible says that God loves righteousness and that God is righteous. It says that one day God is going to judge the world in righteousness. Psalm 23 says that God leads us in the paths of righteousness.
So what in the world does this word mean?
I once looked it up in a theological dictionary, and its definition went on for 27 pages! But I’ll boil it down to two things: Righteousness is a relationship and a lifestyle.
Righteousness simply means being right with God. Romans 1:17 says, “The Good News shows how God makes people right with himself” (NCV). The Good News is that God made us right with himself through Jesus’ death as a payment for our sins. Because of Jesus’ death, we can have a personal relationship with God.
Righteousness is also a lifestyle. It means living right as God intends. The Bible says in 1 John 2:29, “All who practice righteousness are God’s true children” (The Message).
So why should you care about being right with God? Because it’s the only way to live, and it’s the only way to heaven.
When you are disconnected from God, you’re not really living; you just exist. Most people in the world aren’t really fully alive. They just exist, trying to make it to the weekend. But to be disconnected from your Creator who made you for a purpose is nonsense.
Life is not about the acquisition of things or the achievement of goals. Life is about getting to know God—the one who loves you and made you for a purpose. You’re not really living until you’re right with God and have a relationship with him.
Righteousness is also the way you get to heaven. God created heaven as a place for his children whom he loves, and he wants you to be with him forever. He wants you to be in heaven, but he’s not going to force you to go to heaven. You can choose to be disconnected from God here on earth, but when your life on earth is done, you will not have a second chance to choose where you spend eternity.
You can’t blame God, because he gives you the choice right now to have a relationship with him. He wants you to choose to love him! And when you do, you will be made right with him. It will change your life—here on earth and for eternity!
Talk It Over
If God makes you right with him, why does he still want you to learn and grow in spiritual maturity?
What does it mean to have a relationship with God? What does it look like in your life?
In your own words, how would you explain righteousness to someone else? What difference has it made in your life to be made right with God?
This devotional © 2019 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.