Righteousness, or righteously?

“But seek ye first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33, ASV).

The New Living Translation says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

There is a big difference between these two translations.

Righteousness is a state, a condition, while living righteously is an activity.

Which is right? Are we to pursue a condition or an activity?

Some imagine that behaving perfectly (or nearly so) is righteousness. Not so. Good conduct is certainly a product of righteousness, but not a payment for it. One cannot earn the state of righteousness by behaving better.

Righteousness is a gift. It cannot be purchased. It cannot be chased and captured, like prey. It cannot be won, like a carnival prize.

It can be obtained only as a favor. It is imputed (credited to our account) by God when we obey the gospel of his Son (Hebrews 5:8-9).

Having obtained righteousness by faith in Jesus (i.e., faith properly defined), one can live the life of a righteous person, a justified person – a person whose account has been balanced by the Great Accountant of the Universe.

What follows is a life of gratitude and loyalty and yes, even moral improvement, but not in order to earn God’s love, but rather to reciprocate it.

That is righteousness – the life of a righteous person.

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Rick Kelley

I began preaching in Wallace, WV (2000-2002), and worked with the church in Proctor, WV (2002-2004). I graduated from the West Virginia School of Preaching (2004), served the church in Prestonsburg, KY as pulpit minister from 2004-2014, and am currently laboring with the Massillon, OH congregation (2014-present). Outside of biblical studies, I enjoy spending time with my much better half, Samantha, and our six children (Christian, Hannah, Noah, Emma, Evan & Leah). We have an equal parts sweet and goofy Golden Retriever (Max), a rather energetic Australian Shepherd (Mallie), and a very chill Goldendoodle (Moses).

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