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Sentence Sermons (Christian Inspiration) #91 --- Righteousness
Quotations on Righteousness
Walking in the light is walking where the righteousness of God has broken the darkness of sin.
—William M. Anderson, Sr., Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 6, 1922.
You must be right yourself to help others to be right.
—George Wood Anderson, Norwalk Hour, Norwalk, Ct., Oct. 10, 1925.
Travel through life with your face toward God.
—W.D. Craig, Garland News, Garland, Texas, May 27, 1947.
Righteousness does not consist in being right but in an earnest and strenuous desire to be right.
—W.H. Chamberlain, The White and Blue, Provo, Utah, May 31, 1916.
It is worth noting that Jesus never included popularity among men in the Beatitudes as a reward for those who do good.
—J.H. Childress, The Living Message, Harper, Kan., Nov. 22, 1923.
An honor that is not based upon righteousness is like a hollow tree–it can't stand very long.
—Dewey O. Miller, The Wesleyan Youth, Marion, Ind., August 1963.
Being good is one thing; being good for something is much better.
—W.A. MacKenzie, The Leesburg Morning Commercial, Leesburg, Fla., Sept. 17, 1927.
If you have learned but the infinitesimal part of a divine principle, apply it in a practical life.
—Karl G. Maeser, Millennial Star, Liverpool, England, Dec. 9, 1926.
You must be a moral idiot [if] you don't see that a man is unreasonable if he is unrighteous and that righteousness and reasonableness are synonymous terms.
—Billy Sunday, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Jan. 5, 1919.
It pays to do right, but it is moral bankruptcy to do right because it pays.
—Ernest C. Wareing, Western Christian Advocate, Cincinnati, Ohio, June 26, 1918.
Righteousness is followed by goodness and mercy, but sin is shadowed by sorrow and suffering.
–-Ernest C. Wareing, Western Christian Advocate, Cincinnati, Ohio, Nov. 13, 1924.
Righteousness never stands for a left turn.
—Ernest C. Wareing, Western Christian Advocate, Cincinnati, Ohio, July 5, 1928.
Righteousness is not a robe, but the very fibre of your being.
—Ernest C. Wareing, Western Christian Advocate, Cincinnati, Ohio, Aug. 23, 1928.
As a man stands before God's perfect standard of righteousness, and everyone so stands, he measures up far short. Man does not have the power of character within himself to attain righteousness before God. Man's realization of this fact is the first step he can take toward repentance from self-sufficiency and the exercise of real saving faith in God. So many people look for the shortest human measuring stick they can find when measuring themselves, but when and if they will not dare put themselves up by the perfect standard–Christ Jesus–then they begin to see themselves as God sees them, and they are getting into a position and attitude where they can put full trust in God for forgiveness and salvation. One cannot exercise faith in God to do that for him which he does not realize the need of. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God, to the penitent believing of heart, is everlasting life. Those who can rejoice in the blessed assurance of their reconciliation and peace with God should show genuine concern for the spiritual welfare of others. Concern for the spiritual well-being of others is like love, the more you give it away the more you have.
—J.H. Avery, Panama City News-Herald, Panama City, Fla., Sept. 25, 1955.
If you don't hunger and thirst after righteousness, pray God to create hunger and thirst, then lay hold of the promise, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." (Matthew 5:6.) Heaven's measure is "good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over." (Luke 6:38.) When the heart is full of the life and power of God, then you will have power. There will not be any room for envy and pride and all those bitter things. ... When we are in dead earnest and want the bread of heaven and the water of life with all our souls, we are going to get it....
Now you notice the command to be filled. Are you full? If not, then are we not living beneath our privilege? It is a command, and I do not believe God would command you and me to be full, and then not fill us. We certainly cannot fill ourselves, and we cannot empty ourselves, but we can come to God and let Him fill us. If we hunger and thirst after this blessing, we are going to get it. ...
The Holy Ghost comes in His own way. If you expect Him to come in one way He will come in an opposite direction. Don't mark out a course for the Holy Ghost: He will make a channel for Himself and work in His own way. Take the promise of God and get your feet in it: "They that hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled." Claim it, for it is yours. "I will pour water on him that is thirsty." (Isaiah 44:3.) Claim it, walk right out on that promise.
—Dwight L. Moody, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., Nov. 9, 1895.
To live righteously is to live with due regard for the rights of other men. And so doing leads us to the discovery that we receive a greater opportunity to live ourselves. The more we love others the more attractive we become ourselves. If we shut ourselves off from others our own lives will become a Dead Sea of corruption.
—J.H. Snowden, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, July 17, 1922.
Righteousness in the sight of God is not doing right merely because He commanded it, or through fear of punishment, but because of the love of doing that which is right. Right doing is acceptable to God only when a thing is done in accordance with His will, both in the letter and in the spirit. This type of righteousness is impossible to man in his natural state.
—B.J.W. Graham, Christian Index, Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 19, 1915.
“He who sows sparingly will reap also sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will reap also bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6.)
We reap what we sow. This day, as every other, is like a furrow lying before us. Our thoughts, our desires, and our actions are the seed we drop into it. As the day closes we finish the furrow and the next morning we begin another. Every day until the end of life we start new furrows. What we have sown springs up and grows, and we live in the garden we have planted in the days past.
God has given us the ability to choose the kind of a garden we want to grow. If we sow good seeds we shall reap fruit and beautiful flowers. If we are careless in our gardening, we shall have weeds and thistles. Nobody else but we ourselves are responsible for the garden we are creating. Nobody can do our praying for us. Nobody can do our living or our giving. Nobody can do the work which God has assigned to us.
We claim to be intelligent, and in a sense we are. ... Yet there are many who apparently believe that the wrong thoughts, evil desires, and ignoble actions which they sow will somehow produce a good harvest. Paul wrote many years ago: “Don’t be under any illusion; you cannot make a fool of God! A man’s harvest will depend entirely on what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7.)
—T.H. Brenneman, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, Fla., April 24, 1960.
Righteousness means right doing. It means conformity to God's will as expressed in God's law. The life of Jesus Christ is God's sublime standard of righteousness. ... Furthermore, righteousness is valuable in that it brings to man's aid, divine power. ... Again, righteousness is valuable in that it brings peace and stability. The righteous shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. The ungodly are not. ... Make God's will the rule of your life.
—W.R. Covington, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 10, 1913.
"Wherefore, take with you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13.)
Take the helmet of salvation. (Ephesians 6:17.) The mind is God's measure of the man. It is the birthplace of reason, the throne of volition and the inspiration of thought. But in our present environment the mind is under the dominance of two laws--the law of limitation and the law of sin and death. Then the mind must be brought into harmony with the law of righteousness or it cannot will and reason and think clearly. "For the carnal mind is enmity against God." (Romans 8:7.) Hence the apostle says: "Be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is the perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2.) The salvation of the head or the mind from sin is therefore necessary to its protection from skepticism and infidelity.
Put on the breastplate of righteousness. (Ephesians 6:14.) The heart is the seat of the affections, the appetites and the passions. It is also the organ of love and hate, joy and sorrow, hope and fear. Here we find the moral quality of character and conduct. Hence the word says: "The heart is deceitful and above all things desperately wicked." (Jeremiah 17:9.) The Savior says: "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, blasphemies, thefts," etc. (Matthew 15:19.) So the heart must be regenerated by the application of the truth through the spirit of God. Thus we put on the breastplate of righteousness.
"Have your loins girt about with truth." (Ephesians 6:14.) Truth is conformity to fact or reality in the past, the present and the future. It is a unit, and always consistent with itself. Its origin is of God. Yet while it is a unit, it has a variety of phases. There is spiritual truth, or truth as it inheres in the spirit. This truth defines our relation to God. We perceive it, not through the senses, but through consciousness as it is revealed to us through the Holy Ghost. It is a veritable experience. "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Then follows moral truth, truth as it inheres in the relation which we sustain to our kind. Hence, love to God and love to man is the essence of all true religion. We want to take the truth and bind it about us as a girdle to strengthen character.
"Above all take the shield of faith." (Ephesians 6:16.) Faith is trust in God. It is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."(Hebrews 11:1.) Without this faith it is impossible to please God. With it we can defend the mind, the heart, the truth and live safe from the temptations of life.
But we not only want self-protection from the evils of this world, we want also to be ready for service. This is a day when God wants men to do something for the kingdom of Christ. He wants aggressive soldiers. Hence we must have offensive parts of the armor. These are prayer and the word of God. With these we are to go forth conquering and to conquer. Thus we overcome self. Prayer brings us into oneness with God, and the word, which is the sword of the spirit, gives us the victory over men. Truth when applied overcomes error and right will triumph over wrong. To do this it will require time and sacrifice, but as sure as God lives and we do our duty, truth and right will ultimately prevail. Let us, therefore, put on the whole armor of God and go forth to battle and victory.
—George C. Rankin, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, June 29, 1896.
Real education comes not from pouring something into our heads from without, but from developing interests and aptitudes that are within. That is the best way to educate the character. None of us is ever safe to go out into this world until the authority which makes us do right and refrain from doing wrong is no longer outside of us but inside. We need something within which we can carry along with us. And that something is a high opinion of ourselves.
In the first place, it will help us to tell the difference between right and wrong. And that is something we need. ... Let us see ourselves as children of God, and count as wrong anything which injures personality, as right anything which exalts personality.
In the second place, a high opinion of ourselves will help us to do the right. Conscious of oneness with other children of God who have made and maintained a high tradition of moral heroism, encompassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, we find it easier to run worthily the race set before us.
—John A. Redhead, Jr., Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., June 1, 1936.
“Blessed are they which to hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:7.) It is most blessed to hunger and to thirst for righteousness. Only those in deep conscious need may gain the favor of God, for He ... rewards those who seek Him with their whole heart. God is never far from those who have a great need in their lives. ... Where there is a deep hunger for the great truths of God and for a deeper life in God you will find that life is never dull or uninteresting, but alays a challenge and a great adventure, for God will gives you strength for every need. There is no greater desire of the human soul than this: The desire for Righteousness, Godliness, the Fruit of the Spirit. God has planted these longing in the heart and His promise to you is that you shall find a satisfying portion.
—William A. Smith, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, Fla., Oct. 4 1959.
"The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree." (Psalms 92:12.)
It may be well for us to observe the distinction between the flourishing of the wicked and the flourishing of the righteous as brought out in this Psalm. The one is the flourishing of outward and material show; the other is primarily a matter of character. The wicked may flourish by reason of what he has--and that shall be taken from him; the righteous flourish by reason of what he is, and that can never be taken from him.
The picture of the righteous man given in the symbol of the palm tree is one of uprightness, erectness, perennialness, fruitfulness and inward soundness and vitality. The parallels between the palm tree and the flourishing Christian are many and striking. We shall study them, for your instruction and edification.
But before studying the characteristics between the palm tree and the significance of the text from that standpoint, let us inquire into the meaning of righteousness. "The righteous shall flourish." Who are the righteous? What is righteousness? Righteousness is a far bigger word and a far more significant word than some of us think. It means more than church membership. It consists of vastly more than profession. "He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous." (1 John 3:7.) "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven." "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:20.)
Righteousness is a state of character. It is based on right relationship with God. It embraces first of all right being, and in the second place right doing. The foundation of all true righteousness is in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and the divine power of the Holy Spirit. Men who are unrighteous in character and conduct may be made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ through whose redemption and power right being and right doing is made possible for sinful men.
But after right relations have been established between man and God through the work of Christ's redemption and by the power of the Holy Spirit, right doing must be maintained by man. There must be holiness of conduct as well as holiness of character. He that doeth the will of God, that liveth in obedience to Christ's commands, shall flourish as the palm tree. If you know there are points in your life where God is not pleased, then you cannot claim the beauty and glory of this text. If you are doing things that you know are contrary to the will of God, then you cannot flourish like the palm tree. If you are refusing to do that which God's word reveals as your duty or are resisting the voice of the Holy Spirit, the promise cannot apply to your life. In our analogy of the text we hope to stir in your hearts a new purpose to flourish like the palm tree.
In order to understand the force of that figure and the truths which it conveys we shall now go back and study the most outstanding characteristics of the palm tree.
Perhaps one of the most striking characteristics, and one in which it is unlike every other tree, is that the palm tree grows from the heart out. Other trees grow from without inward and derive much of their nourishment from the atmosphere. The inner fiber of the bark becomes wood year by year, and there are circular lines in the trees indicating the growth each year. But the palm tree is different. It grows from the center out, and each year the bark falls off and new bark grows on. It receives its nourishment largely through the heart and from the ground.
The Psalmist says that the righteous in his growth shall be like the palm tree, from the heart out. True righteousness begins with the work of regeneration of the heart and continues in the work of sanctification. The religion of Christ is fundamentally a religion of the heart, beginning in the heart and permeating the life. It is different from all other religions in this respect. The processes of Christian education and Christian training have to do primarily with heart culture. The solution of all our problems in matters of worldliness and unbecoming conduct among Christians may be found at this point. Instead of setting up a lot of disciplinarian rules and carrying out set forms of outward reformation, we need to cultivate the spiritual life of our people. Christians may be made to flourish like palm trees when the heart life is kept right, when sustenance is drawn largely from the soil of God's kingdom and not from the atmosphere of the world, and when growth is sustained from the heart outward.
Another striking characteristic of the palm tree, and one in which it differs from all other trees, is that it cannot be grafted and that its fruit will not mix with other trees which may be nearby. This is peculiarly true of Christianity. You cannot graft Christianity onto other religions; neither will the fruit of other religions mix with the fruit of Christianity. This must be true also of the individual Christian who would flourish. Your Christianity cannot be an offshoot of something else. It cannot be grafted onto other religious principles or relationships in life. The true Christian man can live in an environment of other worthy institutions, and still retain his identity and individuality as a Christian man. He can also live in environments incompatible with Christianity without contamination. How I pity the professed Christian who has to blend with the crowd with which he moves.
If you would flourish like a palm tree you must live a life of separateness from all other trees around you, overcome unwholesome environments in which you are compelled to grow, and draw your strength largely from the sources of heaven and through the heart life.
The power of the palm tree to overcome all kinds of foes is one of the finest suggestions of the text. In spite of choking sands which surround it, the burning sun which scorches it, the fierce tempests which beat continuously upon it, the palm tree flourishes with perennial verdure, lifts its beautiful corona of leaves high in the air, and bears bountiful crops of luxuriant fruit. It is indeed a root out of dry ground, but by virtue of its wonderful strength received from its inward connection with the sources of growth and fruitfulness in the earth, it overcomes all obstacles of growth and fruitfulness. How like the palm tree is the true Christian. Foes may attack, enemies may persecute, the evil one may tempt, and a thousand forces may combine to injure and crush out his life, but he survives them all and with everlasting freshness and abounding fruitfulness, glorifies God in his body and in his spirit, which are His.
The extensive usefulness of the palm tree is another interesting and suggestive study in seeking to understand the wonderful meaning of this text. A large part of the people of Egypt, Arabia and Persia subsist almost entirely on its fruits. It has valuable medicinal virtues. Camels feed on the date stone. From the leaves many domestic articles are made. Thread, rope and rigging are manufactured from the fibers of the tree. ... The flourishing Christian exerts wide influence in the affairs of the world, possesses qualities of extensive usefulness, and is beneficial to all mankind. Society has no greater asset for all that is wholesome and beneficial than an earnest Christian character. Its influence for good and his usefulness in life are felt in all the relationships of the world. "The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree" in their extensive usefulness to the world and in their large fruitfulness in life. One palm tree is said to yield three and four hundred pounds of dates per year, and some have been known to produce as much as six hundred pounds. A flourishing Christian produces abundant and excessive fruit.
Fruitfulness in old age is one of the most beautiful and valuable lessons of this striking figure. The palm tree is perhaps the only tree from which superior fruit is derived in old age. Most trees do not bear at all when old. The older the palm tree the sweeter and richer its fruit. It is said that the most celebrated palm tree known in the world today is two thousand years old and that its fruit is so rich and precious that it is protected by a huge wall and is kept entirely for the royal family. In the ordinary affairs of life we do not look for superior fruitfulness in age. But of the truly righteous it may be truly said: "Time, that doth all things else decay, Still makes them flourish strong and fair."
One of the sweetest and most beautiful things in the world is an aged Christian. Though under all sorts of bodily and natural decays, they are often vigorous and flourishing and fruitful in the things of spiritual reality and power.
How I love youth, and how I long to always keep young. How I love young people and I hope I shall never get old enough not to enjoy the pleasure of the young or to sympathize with them in their energy and vivacity and life. ...
The old have a riper knowledge of God and His ways; they have a deeper and richer sanctity of nature as a result of many years of experience and discipline; they are more heavenly-minded, being loosed from the cares of this world as they approach nearer the world of eternity; and their whole character and life have been sweetened and strengthened by many years in the service of God. How beautiful is an unrepining, cheerful, and sweet tempered old age, in whose face the light of heaven may be seen and whose calmness of spirit reveals a mind at peace with God and a heart in unbroken communion with Him. Such is the Christian described in out text, flourishing in old age like the palm tree, and growing richer and more luxuriant in fruitfulness as the years roll up.
My last thought is that the palm tree is a sign of comfort and life. Caravans traveling across the burning sands of the deserts, parched with thirst and weary with their long journey, rush to the cluster of palms which they know that water is there. The righteous is a sign to the sin-wearied heart and thirsty soul which tells where the living waters of life are to be found.
Is your life a channel of spiritual comfort and help? Does anybody come to you for comfort or for sustenance? Are you ever sought out by people in distress or in need? Does your bearing impress people with the thought that you have a perennial source of Divine comfort and help? The true Christian must have such a flourishing spiritual life that sinning, suffering, sorrowing, distressed and burdened souls will be drawn to him for succor and help.
Do we not aspire to the wonderful elevation of palm-tree Christians? In the Oriental mind the palm is the queen of trees. Of all vegetable forms it is regarded as the most beautiful. Its stately growth, its graceful form, its erectness and aboveness, its perpetual verdure, as lovely and luxuriant fruit--together with its manifold and varied uses make it superior to all other trees known to the Orient. Tall, slender, erect, nothing swaying it from its perfect uprightness, it constantly aspires towards the heavens and lifts its head far from the earth. So let us be and do, flourishing and bearing fruit for the glory of God, until Christ comes to receive us unto Himself.
—C.P. Roney, Baptist Message, Shreveport, La., April 7, 1921.
"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." (Galatians 5:25.) What is it to "walk in the Spirit"?
It is, first of all, to live in reverent recognition of His presence as the indwelling one. ... All right Christian living must of necessity begin with the reverent recognition of the Spirit's holy presence. He is a person, and our relations with Him are personal. We live with Him, just as we live with other persons. Only our relations are far more intimate with Him than with any other person. He is within--"nearer than the air we breathe, nearer than our most secret thoughts."
How have we treated Him? Usually, we simply ignore Him. Can any insult be more gross? Suppose you were to simply ignore the presence in your house of one dwelling there? Not to recognize him, never to see him, never to speak to him? Suppose another were to treat you so? ... To ignore the Spirit's indwelling is not a discourtesy, merely. It is a sin.
It is difficult to conceive how radical is the revolution in the inner life which is wrought by the simple recognition of the Spirit's indwelling. His presence, thus acknowledged, gives the keynote of the life. If some greatly honored and beloved friend enters our home as a guest, the whole life of the home so long as the guest remains is keyed to the fact of his presence. All merely personal preferences are for the time subordinated to the known tastes and preferences of the guest. Inevitably, then, the recognition of the Spirit's indwelling must be followed by loving response to His wishes. ...
The Spirit ... is the divine courtesy, the divine delicacy. ... He comes as Christ's personal representative, whose first and greatest function is to make Christ real to us; to actualize to us all that we have and are in Christ. Has Christ been to us an abstraction, a name, even though our faith in Him has been true, and no fiction? Then the Spirit will make Him the personal Christ, the present Christ. Has the divine Fatherhood been to us but a juiceless doctrine, a mere phrase? Then the Spirit will make that fatherhood more real to us than that of an earthly parent. ...
Has our prayer life been cold and formal? The indwelling Spirit will form within our hearts petitions that shall be fragrant with faith, and warm with desire. ... The Spirit comes to light in our hearts the pure flame of adoration, wonder, love and praise, a flame that will make every day a day of worship.
But most of all, He comes to subdue and cast down the old self life which has dominated us and brought us into captivity of the law of sin. Not by good resolutions nor by renewed efforts of the will are we ever to know victory over the basest of tyrants, but only by the Spirit's power.
Have we lost ... the joy of the Lord? He will renew that joy till our hearts shall be fitted with divine melodies.
But the mighty guest will never force these blessings upon us. Only so much as we gladly surrender will He occupy. ... He will lay the tender finger of His loving desire on this and that and that until there is nothing held back, until every door of the soul is opened to him and every part of the self-life yielded.
We make wonderful discoveries as we go on walking in the Spirit. We come upon new and humbling revelations of our own evil, but along with these such experiences of the sanctifying and delivering power of the Spirit, the Spirit leads us constantly in the triumph of Jesus Christ. ...
"Quench not the Spirit." (1 Thessalonians 5:19.) It is the Greek word for extinguishing a flame. The thought is that the Holy Spirit indwells us not only as the spirit of holiness and purity and praise, but as the energy of the new life. He is the inspirer. And gentle as is His voice, it is the voice of God. He speaks to the soul with authority and it is to be obeyed instantly and unquestioningly.
He is the producer of Christian character and Christian character has an outward and aggressive side. Inwardly it is contemplative, affectional; outwardly it is virile, positive.
To quench the Spirit is to say "no" to Him. ... The pity of it all is that we quench the still small voice of the Spirit in respect of small things. Most Christians, convinced of the will of God concerning some great thing, make shift to obey. ... But if the monition comes, gentle as a zephyr's breath, to do some near, small act of kindness, to confess some little fault, to show goodness for evil in some very little thing, we evade and procrastinate.
—C.I. Scofield, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, March 26, 1905.
You will never be sorry:
For telling the truth.
For living a pure life.
For your faith in Jesus Christ.
For doing your level best.
For thinking before acting.
For forgiving your enemies.
For hearing before judging.
For being kind to the poor.
For helping a fallen brother.
For being honest in business.
For being candid and frank.
For thinking before speaking.
For standing by your principles.
For stopping your ears to gossip.
For bridling a slanderous tongue.
For harboring only pure thoughts.
For being courteous and kind to all.
For sympathizing with the afflicted.
For money given to the Lord’s cause.
For faithfulness in keeping your promises.
For asking pardon when you have done a wrong.
—Reed Smoot, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sept. 15, 1923.