What is RIGHTEOUSNESS? Part 2
Have you ever heard of the poem and book, Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.?
I think I’ve been aware of it all my adult life because my mother would quote it from time to time or at least quote the title. But just to refresh your memory, here’s a short excerpt: If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight. If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive…If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence…If children live with acceptance, they learn to love…If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness…
Even though this comes from a secular point of view to me, it has always made sense. However, where true believers are concerned, the poem stops short, and we could add more. If children live with LOVE, they learn to trust. If children live with GRACE, they learn to forgive. If children live with RIGHTEOUSNESS, they learn uprightness of heart.
Maybe my additions don’t make a good poem, but they’re true. According to Dictionary.com, righteous means characterized by uprightness or morality.
Isaiah prayed, “The way of the just is uprightness; O Most Upright, You weigh the path of the just.”
So, from where does uprightness of heart come? I see your hands going up all over the room, “Oh, oh, I know—from Jesus!” Good answer! Jesus is our Most Upright—the LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, and we can do nothing without Him.
But possessing Jesus as our righteousness makes us a target. King David said, “For look! The wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow on the string, that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.”
These wicked are of their father the devil…He is a murderer…a liar, and the father of it. His desires they do, and it’s not always spiritual.
Thus, to protect our heart and vital organs, our Great God and Savior gave us armor, namely the Breastplate of Righteousness. “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness.”
Notice when we girded our waist with truth, we also “put on” the breastplate of righteousness. What? It’s my opinion, the moment of salvation—believing and receiving the TRUTH of Jesus Christ—His dying for our sin, being buried, and rising the third day according to the scriptures, is when we receive our armor. This is one of the reasons TRUTH is our first piece of armor.
Think of clothes hanging in our closet—we own them—but they are not on our body until we dress. So, Paul said, “put on” the armor of light, “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ, and “put on” the new man, using the same Greek word.
If Christ is OUR righteousness, He IS our BREASTPLATE. Yet observe one more thing, this breastplate is frontal—no guarantee it connects to a back piece. Wesley Explanatory Notes comment, “No armour for the back is mentioned. We are always to face our enemies.” I agree, but what about two attackers—one frontal and the other sneaking up from behind? What then? Ahh…good question…
Because we have “put on” Christ, God says, “Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness (who is Jesus) shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your REAR GUARD.”
RIGHTEOUSNESS is Christ. He protects our front AND guards our back.