We’re in a new series called “Foundations” which builds off of Jesus’ metaphor in Matt 7: “A house built on sand will never be able to stand BUT a house that’s built on the rock will never be able to fall.”
This week, we’re in Practice #9: Go Do Justice. God’s righteousness and justice are a major theme in both the Old Testament and the New Testament because they are intrinsic to His own character. God’s people are to show the world who God is by being people characterized by righteous living and a pursuit of justice. In Deuteronomy 16:18-20, Moses instructs the leaders of the twelve tribes to make sure that there is justice at the highest level: “Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
If we fast forward several centuries, the people ruling at the time of Jesus are a sect of Jews known as the Pharisees. They’re highly regarded by the people and have a reputation for holy living. But Jesus exposes them as “white-washed tombs” - men who pervert God’s ways while pretending to be holy. Jesus instructs His disciples to do the opposite of the Pharisees. Jesus’ followers are to be characterized by justice and righteousness, in keeping with Moses’ words in Deuteronomy.
Let’s spend a few minutes examining the text in the Sermon on the Mount as a way to see what righteousness and justice look like when lived out in ordinary human life. Today, we’ll read from Matthew 5:3-11 (NET):
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. Rejoice and be glad, because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.”
Some questions and next steps:
- List out the attributes of a righteous person, according to Jesus in this text. Define each of these attributes and spend a few minutes thinking about what a person would look like if he/she were characterized by them.
- What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? Do you see that kind of hunger in yourself?
- What is the connection between righteousness and peacemaking?
- Pick one of the attributes. Spend time in prayer, thanking God for His righteousness and asking Him to help you exhibit ____________ as you become more like Jesus.
Published on 11-22-2021 @ 4:47 AM CDT