Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. (Genesis 6:9, NLT)
We all know about Noah, how he built the ark, and whose righteousness saved the human race (and every other living creature today) from being completely obliterated by a disappointed, frustrated, and fed-up God. In the midst of much ugliness, God looked upon His corrupted creation with disgust, to find but ONE righteous man among them all…Noah. Thus the story of the ark unfolds, and because of such, our existence was enabled.
But I don’t want to talk about the ark and the flood. When I think of this piece of history, I sometimes forget that Noah was the ONLY blameless person living at that time! Think about that for just a moment. In an earth full of people, only one had maintained his relationship with God in such a way that he was considered righteous and blameless in the eyes of God. That is huge. It says a lot about Noah, but it also says a lot about what was going on in the world at that time. No wonder God was so angry, and so ready for a clean slate! Can you imagine?
5 The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. 6 So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. 7 And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” 8 But Noah found favor with the Lord. (Genesis 6: 5-7, NLT)
Today we are not too far off from this level of wickedness. I don’t have to name it all off…we can each take a look and see the evil around us for what it is. And I can’t help but wonder, if it came down to it, would I be the ONE? Would I be considered righteous and blameless enough to find favor in His eyes? Would my life, and the lives of those I hold most dear to my heart, be spared? Being 100% honest here, I have to say no. I don’t think I’d be the ONE person who had remained SO faithful, SO true, and SO righteous, that I could be chosen as the saving grace of the world! But…I can be thankful in knowing that it will never come down to that again. In Christ, we have a better hope…God’s promise of grace and mercy is fulfilled, for Christ is the ONE…chosen and given as a sacrifice for my (our) sins. So no, we don’t have to worry about total obliteration, but it does bring up the very important subject of righteousness. What is it exactly? Why do we need to pursue it?
Righteousness is defined as: the quality of being morally right or justifiable. Biblically, and in a way that can be applied to our spiritual lives, there are many examples of righteousness, but in the New Testament, James reminds us of who actually set the bar for righteousness…Abraham.
21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. (James 2: 21-24, NLT)
Righteousness is right relationship with God by a faith expressed in works. It is not only “talking the talk” but also “walking the walk,” so to speak. When we line our actions up with the word and commandments of God, we can be confident in our pursuit of righteousness. When we say we believe it, and we back that proclamation up with dedication and love shown by what we actually do in our lives, then we are walking in the truth…in righteousness.
So what do we do? If righteousness is an alignment of faith and action with God’s word, then I can’t help but go back to the full armor of God.
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6: 10-17, NLT)
Righteousness is our spiritual body armor – or breastplate. It protects our very core from wounds. It is a covering for the most vital parts of who we are as children of God and followers of Christ. When we live our lives in right relationship with God, honoring His word with faithful works, we are covering our lives with the protection and grace of God.
So…suit up! Though we do not face the same things that Noah faced, you can be sure that darker days are coming in our world. We are not promised that things will get better, or that life will be easy for us, but we are promised grace and mercy to carry us through every battle that we face.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am not always the righteous one. I falter, and I waver in my faith, but I am so grateful that You sent Your son to die for me, so that in my times of failure I am covered and redeemed by Your grace. Help me, Lord, to be more committed to my own pursuit of righteousness. If I am to be more like You, if I am to please You, then I must do what Your word tells me to do. I am trying, but I need Your help…every day. Amen.