Which one are you?

Proverbs 21:21 21 Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

These days the word righteous seems to carry around some unsavory baggage.  Often it’s coupled with “self” when someone is being admonished for being self-righteous.  It’s used with “indignation” and a negative connotation that the purveyor of “righteous indignation” has a bit too high an opinion of themselves.  Still, we want to be righteous, but what about when right and righteous disagree?

Righteousness is the state of being morally or divinely correct.  By this definition it’s easy to see that laws, while right, (they’re laws after all) may not be morally correct.  Jesus had a few things to say about the laws of his day being far away from righteousness.  Even our own sense of correctness and morality might not line up with what’s righteous.  According to the proverb someone pursuing righteousness and love (don’t forget that one, it’s a pretty big deal in the bible) can expect life, prosperity and honor.  These beat the heck out of the alternatives: death, poverty and dishonor.  So let’s say we’re pursuing righteousness, sometimes in spite of what we might think is “right” or “fair.”  Where does kindness come into this whole equation?  And what’s that got to do with being right or righteous?  I know, my head’s swimming a little too.  Let me see if I can pull this all together.

The proverb (literally defined as a fundamental principle) and the pursuit of the divine “right” is not the same as this world’s, our society’s or even our own sense of right.   Jesus often ran counter to the accepted norms and ultimately paid for it with his life but along with love, his teaching had everything to do with being kind to others.  He declared what we now call the golden rule superseded everything else including laws.

Today, perhaps more than ever, as we pursue the divine right we do so confident of the good things it will bring and of a higher sense of its righteousness.  Kindness, as a part of that and in all its different iterations, with whatever difficulties it brings, should be the cornerstone.

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