Are there people who are righteous? What makes someone a righteous person? We are told in Ecclesiastes 7:20: “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” And Rabbi Shaul (Paul) says: “As it is written none is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Yet we see in Luke that Simeon was called a righteous man. “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him” (Luke 2:5).
And again, Luke tells us of two more righteous people: “In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah, and whose wife Elizabeth was a daughter of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of G-d, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and decrees of the Lord” (Luke 1:5-6)
To be a righteous person, does not mean you are a sinless person or a perfect person. It means that you pursue righteousness. You run after righteousness, and with all that is within you, you aspire to live as Yeshua lived. It means you live ethically, and you do unto others as you would have others do to you! Psalm 1:6 tells us: “The Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”
Righteousness could be thought of as a way of life: righteousness brings life. Righteousness lives right out in the light of day. It does not have to hide what is being done. Righteousness is not about self; it is about others. Righteousness gives and smiles and believes and yearns for the Lord to be revealed. Loving the Lord with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our might means we are pursuing righteous living, and it is revealed in our lives by the way we treat others. The way we treat others really shows what we think of G-d.
Revelation19:7b,8: “For the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
This verse clearly tells us that righteousness is what we do – it’s our actions!
James makes this clear for us when he says: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, depart in peace, be warmed and filled; but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:14-17).
Finally, why should we pursue righteousness? Rabbi Shaul sums it up for us saying:
“So that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:10-11).