Six Essential Virtues for Life – #3 Whatever Is Right!
By Rob Fields
Among the souvenirs in the Mark Twain Memorial in Hartford, Conn., one finds these words written on white paper and neatly framed: “Always do right. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest. Truly yours, Mark Twain.”
Philippians 4:8 states to do whatever is right! The word right is δίκαιοςc, α, ον: (dikaios) which means being in accordance with God’s compelling standards (Mt 1:19); be put right with, pertaining to be in right relationship with someone (Ro 1:17); proper, right in the sense of being fully justified (Php 1:7).
We understand this word further from its root word usage in the Greek world. God’s law is an order of life that cannot be changed or challenged – right. It is righteous because He is righteous. His ways are right; they thus give us life and security. His righteousness extends to other nations, so that order is seen in the world.
The basic meaning of RIGHTEOUS is that God is righteous and those who follow Him are righteous. The Messiah is righteous because his whole nature and action conform to God’s will. The character trait of God is that He is just and righteous. His laws are righteous because it reflects the very righteous character of God. When God required an act and it was followed, it was credited as righteous.
Consider the Beatitudes shared by Jesus. He says blessed are those who hunger and thirst for the whole of righteousness, for complete righteousness, for total righteousness, for all righteousness.
In the Antarctic summer of 1908-9, Sir Ernest Shackleton and three companions attempted to travel to the South Pole from their winter quarters. They set off with four ponies to help carry the load. Weeks later, their ponies dead, rations all but exhausted, they turned back toward their base, their goal not accomplished.
Altogether, they trekked 127 days. On the return journey, as Shackleton records in The Heart of the Antarctic, the time was spent talking about food — elaborate feasts, gourmet delights, sumptuous menus. As they staggered along, suffering from dysentery, not knowing whether they would survive, every waking hour was occupied with thoughts of eating. Jesus, who also knew the ravages of food deprivation, said,
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for RIGHTEOUSNESS.” We can understand Shackleton’s obsession with food, which offers a glimpse of the passion Jesus intends for our quest for righteousness. We are to think about and pursue with such ambition towards whatever is RIGHT. If God is righteous and His Son embodies the RIGHTEOUSNESS of the Father, we should pursue Jesus and the Father.
We pursue them and follow in obedience, it becomes righteous.