The Scriptures emphatically declare that righteousness exalts a nation; but sin (unrighteousness) is a reproach to any people. While we all disapprove most (if not all) acts of unrighteousness; we really do not know how we can help other people and even, ourselves, to live and do righteousness.
Let us be very sure of this: in this matter, there is not mid-point for anyone; you are either righteous or unrighteous, good or evil – no mid-way!
When we are wronged as a people; we seek for redress in competent courts of jurisdiction. When we go to those places, we pray the courts for justice, which is another word for righteousness.
Nobody loves to be wronged; yet, everybody is not willing to follow the laws of being right. It has been said that while managers do things rightly; leaders do the right things. Doing things rightly is a mere consequence of following some laid-down methods or guidelines; but doing right things is a result of the heart (attitude and perspective).
The question then is; how can a people who have been doing things “rightly”, begin to do the right things? That question isn’t new: for John the Baptist in the ancient Israel nation was confronted with the same age-long human problem (better still, challenge).
The answer to the question can be built on the response of John to what he saw in his own generation: He said, “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…” (Luke 3:8). Hitherto, the people had thought that they were right before God: for they were doing “right” things; however, John told them to make their daily actions good reflections of their proclaimed “right” living. In short, they were admonished to walk the talk!
I have discovered that the first step to a life of righteousness (where, a man is not trying to please God by what he does; but really pleasing God by how he does what he does) is repentance! Repentance is not therefore a probable step to righteousness; but a necessary step. A close family of repentance is remorse; however, there is a difference between the two words. To repent is to change your pattern of thinking; while to be remorseful is to feel bad for one’s action (or regret it) without necessarily changing the course of the action and its consequence.
According to the book of Proverbs in the Bible, “As a man thinks, so is he…;” implying the direct link between a man’s thoughts and his life. Hence, the quickest way to act or behave differently is to think differently!
In order for us to experience an action-shift, we must first experience a mind-shift. The way to change our unrighteous acts into righteous acts is therefore to change our thoughts to righteous thoughts.
In the book of Luke 3:8-14, the people asked John for help on how they could become righteous – men and women who do right things – people who think right thoughts; he then gave them a set of instructions for righteousness that provided a paradigm shift in their thoughts and lifestyles. These instructions I have tagged: The Five Fruits of Repentance and Righteousness. They are as follows:
I. Share from what you have;
II. Do not seek personal gain from your work – don’t become corrupt;
III. Do not intimidate (molest, condemn, suppress or oppress) anyone;
IV. Do not make false accusations (do not equally make false declarations);
V. Be content with whatever you earn.
These instructions are as relevant in our time in Nigeria, US, UK, Singapore, Taiwan or Uganda, as they were then; and we can become God’s true representatives in our families, villages or cities, Churches, companies and even countries; if we spend our time meditating on those few (five) lines of guidance from the Spirit of the Lord.
Remember, kings establish their kingdoms by righteousness and only by righteousness can you and I be settled and established in relevance and greatness on the earth. Be blessed!