The Kingdom of God is God, the Sovereign Monarch of all that is, exercising His dominion; fulfilling His agenda. His rule is exercised predominantly in the lives of His loyal subjects. What does life look like when God is in charge?
When one begins to live under the rule of God, it would be safe to say things will no longer be business as usual. Regardless how life was lived before bowing to the Lordship of Christ, everything changes once He takes His place on the throne of the heart.
In Romans 14:17, the Apostle Paul gives us a glimpse of what life looks like when a person is living in the Reign.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. ESV
Righteousness, peace, and joy are three characteristics that will be observed in the lives of those living under God’s rule. I will be examining each of these characteristics in the next several posts. Let’s start with the first one.
This righteousness referred to here is not that which comes from being justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This righteousness can be defined as being rightly related to the Lord so we relate rightly to everyone and everything around us. Righteousness is the very character of the Kingdom because the King Himself is righteous (Psalm 11:7), with righteousness and justice being the foundation of His throne (Psalm 89:14).
More Than Externals
The righteousness the King calls for is far more than mere outward conformity to a religious code of ethics. This is why Jesus said one’s righteousness had to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law (Matthew 5:20). Outwardly, the scribes and Pharisees seemed to be the pristine examples of those living their lives according to the Law of God, but Jesus exposed them as being inwardly full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 23:27 – 28).
The righteousness the King is looking for is that which flows out of a right heart. It is a righteousness that goes beyond abstaining from committing the act of murder and gives no place to the angry thoughts and emotions that lead to it. It is the righteousness that does not merely keep its hands off the neighbour’s wife, but refuses to indulge the lust-filled fantasies that push one to transgress the boundaries of marriage. This righteousness is not concerned about parading itself before men to be thought well of by others, but prefers rather to be manifested first before God in secret. In the practical out-workings of modern-day life, this righteousness reveals itself as
Honesty – firmly adhering to the truth no matter what the cost
Integrity – being the same in every situation and circumstance, both in public and in private
Faithfulness – consistently fulfilling obligations whether or not it’s convenient
Deeds of kindness and mercy, especially to the less fortunate
Based on Love
Kingdom righteousness has love as its basis. This is why, in answer to the question of which was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37 – 40 ESV
If someone loves God with all their being, they will do right by Him in every instance. Obedience will be a great joy. If one truly loves his neighbour as himself, he will not hurt or defraud his neighbour in any way. He will busy himself with looking for ways to be a blessing to him. This is why Paul says love fulfills the law (Romans 13:8 – 10)
Jesus commands us to pursue this righteousness with the same fervour with which we pursue the Kingdom (Matthew 6:33). The assurance is that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will certainly be filled (Matthew 5:6).
What About You?
What place does the King’s righteousness hold in your life? Righteousness in heart and life is a sure sign that one is living in the Reign.