Links Daily Devotional

An Opportunity for Righteousness

Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name. (Psalm 97:11-12, NIV)

In the 1990s, when I was teaching high school English, I would open each of my school years by introducing my students to Edward R. Sill’s poem, “Opportunity.” It is a short ballad in which an embattled prince takes up an inferior discarded sword and by determination leads his troops to victory.

I would have my students rewrite this poem as a modern story. In that vein, we might say that the golf version of Sill’s poem presents us with a US Open setting where a competitor in contention going into Sunday has his clubs stolen. The only available replacements are an incomplete hickory-shafted set dug out of the dusty hollows of the bag room. Yet this golfer resolves to get the job done and hoists the trophy at day’s end.

The righteousness that proceeds from a heart surrendered to Christ and a mind renewed by his Spirit is observable.On a much bigger landscape—the spiritual plain where we live our lives—we might glean from these twin stories the way our own lives are to be approached, for in Christ we are simultaneously weak sinners and those empowered by the Spirit unto righteousness.

It is likely, especially in this time when reformed theology has regained widespread footing in many churches, that you have many times heard this passage: “All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3). This passage was taken up by Paul in writing to the Romans, with the intent of explaining that pride had no place among believers, for “Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin” (Romans 3:9).

We may say that this is the necessary bad news before the good news of the gospel of Christ. Unless a man or woman recognizes their sin, they cannot turn from it in repentance. Adding to this Paul’s own laments about his continuing sin in Romans 7, we can say that this sin that plagues us makes us much like dusty old hickories. We’re no good on our own.

But what we draw from Scripture with regard to sin and righteousness is that a critical balance must be kept in mind. In today’s passage, we see that even among sinners (all of us) there are those who can be called righteous. If there are not, who would be there to “rejoice in the LORD,” to “praise his holy name”?

Your sin disqualifies you from any legal standing before God wherein you can say, “See what I have done to deserve salvation.” Still, the righteousness that proceeds from a heart surrendered to Christ and a mind renewed by his Spirit is observable. Living in trust and obedience, you can be called righteous; and just as you are exalting God in that righteousness, you will be rewarded with light and joy.

Sinner, take up the battle in righteousness. The day can be won!

Jeff Hopper
August 15, 2016
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