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Learning to live right

You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it. Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set; Then I’d never have any regrets in comparing my life with your counsel. I thank you for speaking straight from your heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways. I’m going to do what you tell me to do; don’t ever walk off and leave me. (Psalm 119:1-8)

On occasion, someone will ask how they know they are making a 'right decision' or if they are 'living right'. Right-living is something the Bible refers to as "righteousness" - it is the idea of learning to order your steps according to the plans and purposes of God. The design of the designer is always the best plan for the creation, is it not? We can "recommission" or "repurpose" some things for other use, such as making a lamp from a vase, or turning a stool into an end table, but it was not the intention of the creator to see them used in these ways. The vase was designed to be adorned with richly scented, magnificently colorful flowers. The stool was designed the support the weight of a human, not a light bulb. They "function" okay in their "recommissioned" purpose, but they function at their optimum when they are doing exactly what they were created to do! The same is true with each of us. We may think righteousness is a life characterized by morality and a certain degree of upright behavior. Something we might call living a virtuous life. Some describe a "righteous life" as being a "good person" who is "honest", "fair", and even "just". Righteousness is the sum total of making right choices for the right reasons. Apart from Christ in our lives, our choices are anything but righteous!

We could interpret being righteous as "being wise". We have been made "right" by the grace of God. We are given the ability to live "right" by the presence of God in our lives in the person of the Holy Spirit. We are supported in living "right" by the constant intercession of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The righteousness we are really called to exhibit in our daily lives is a result of these actions in us. The idea is each of us coming into "conformity" to the will of God. Righteousness is our will "conforming" to his will. How does this happen? We have to accept the Word of God as the authority in our lives - the "owner's manual" of sorts which helps to direct us to the intended "purpose" for our lives. When we own a car, we refer to the owner's manual to see where the spare tire is kept, how it is removed, where to put the jack, how the car is properly supported when the jack is used, and so on. The owner's manual gives us insight supporting the safest operation of the vehicle. The Word of God is no different - it supports the safest operation of our lives! In order to learn to "conform" to the will of God, we have to get to know it. There is no better place to explore what is "within" and "without" God's will than in the scriptures. If you don't find it plainly there, you certainly get a gist of how God guides us to make decisions which don't violate his overall plan for his children.

Recognizing what the Word says is one thing - actually submitting to what it tells us to do is quite another. To be fully righteous in our steps, we must submit to what we are shown. The idea of submission is kind of a sore point for some - probably because society has so twisted the meaning of submission so as to make us a little wary of this action. When we submit to something, we are just agreeing we are making it our own. In other words, when we choose to follow God's will as revealed in scripture, we are just taking his will and making it our own. We determine it to be "good" and "accept it" as our "mode of operation". When we do, we learn to live in such a manner that our lives reflect the right actions God desires. What this kind of "right-choosing" does for us cannot really be put into words adequately, but I think it helps us see ourselves as God sees us - with the full potential of blameless, perfect, and upright living. There is an exchange of wisdom which comes as we behold ourselves through God's Word - for his Word reflects the original intention of the creation. When we see ourselves as God sees us, the "right" choices become a little easier because we see the potential in those choices. Righteousness is achievable - through a change of perspective. We need to learn what is contained in his Word - allowing his Word to fully influence our choices - choosing to make his will our own. In so doing, we become "upright", "honest", "fair" and even "just" in our behavior. Just sayin!

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