Friday, January 12, 2018

Showing God's Glory

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

Martin Luther used to say that every Christian is called to be Christ to his neighbor. Luther did not mean that Christians are to try to save one another as Christ has saved us. Rather he meant that our lives are to be so conformed to the will of God that people can actually look at us and see the reflected holiness of Christ in our lives, just as the ancient Israelites saw the reflected glory of God in the face of Moses. How often we misrepresent the character of Christ! We are called to show people what justice is to look like, but we commit injustice. We are called to show mercy, but we are unmerciful. We are called to show what fairness, consideration, and sensitivity look like, and yet we gossip and slander other people.

The term glory, when it is used for God, has to do with God’s inner being, His essential weightiness, and presence. The glory of God refers to who God is, not what He does. The same is true of God’s holiness: It refers to God’s being, not primarily to His actions. When the Bible refers to God’s actions, which show forth His essential holiness, the term usually used is righteousness.

Thus, since we Christians are called to reflect or show forth God’s glory and holiness, the only way we can do that is by our actions. God’s holiness is shown in His practice of righteousness, and similarly, it is only in righteous behavior that we can show forth God’s glory and holiness. For some reason, the word righteous is avoided and evaded by Christians today. We speak of piety and spirituality, but not of being righteous. We hear almost nothing about righteousness. Yet, the Bible devotes a great deal more attention to the subject of righteousness than it does to spirituality. If we want to grow in the Spirit, we shall have to concern ourselves with righteousness.

How do you distinguish between ungodly self-righteousness and godly righteousness? In your zeal to act righteously, how do you safeguard yourself against self-righteousness and hypocrisy? There must be a coupling of attitude with action. As you prepare for worship at church this Sunday, confess any self-righteousness with an honesty you have avoided in the past, and ask for the Spirit’s conviction in that area of need.