Proverbs 21:21 (NLT)
Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.
My dad always used to say, “First things first” when my siblings and I would want to do something fun that was big on our agenda…while overlooking our schoolwork or chores or any other responsibilities we had. My dad was not “anti-fun” at all, trust me, but he was a stickler when it came to honoring our commitments and being responsible. I can hear his reminding voice echoing from Heaven as I work through today’s passage.
What are you pursuing in life? What are you striving for? From God’s perspective, are you putting first things first? In the original language, the word for “pursues” is radaph, which means to chase or follow closely after with great effort. Think about a cheetah putting its maximum effort into chasing and eventually overcoming the escaping gazelle. And what is the first object of our chase? Righteousness. In the original context it has massive moral implications and simply points to living life based in alignment with God’s moral standards. Not only does this refer to the more obvious issues like sexual ethics and financial integrity, but it also speaks to how we treat others…how we approach justice and mercy…and like yesterday’s Dose, how we interact with the poor around us.
“Unfailing love” can also be interpreted as loyalty, and most closely relates to the New Testament word grace. To go a step further and deeper, it’s also the phrase used to describe God’s covenantal love for His people. His love is never ending and is not degraded when we don’t keep our side of the bargain. He always pursues…always forgives…always loves His children, no matter what. Do you pursue the people in your life that way, or does the grace (loyalty) you extend to others only get dispensed after they have passed your tests? You are happy to give them the $200, but only if they pass your Go, whatever level of performance that is.
So what happens when we strive after “righteousness and unfailing love?” We are rewarded with life, righteousness, and honor! Life the way God intended for us to live and experience it. Righteousness not only through faith in Christ, which was awarded us at salvation, but the additional blessings of a clean conscience! Finally, you receive the honor of God working in and through you. Not a bad deal for your effort, is it?