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righteousness exalts a nation

  • If thine enemy wrong thee, buy each of his children a drum. African proverb
  • A lie travels round the world while truth is putting her boots on. French proverb
  • Do not remove a fly from your neighbor’s forehead with a hammer. Chinese proverb
Proverbs may be concise and simple, but they certainly pack a punch! What sets apart a biblical proverb from other proverbs is that it is uniquely designed to help you make decisions that honor the Lord.
 
For example, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). 
 
Notice that righteousness makes a nation great—not its size, not its political platforms, not its military might or booming economies. Righteousness exalts a nation. 
 
Unfortunately, in our culture today, the word “righteousness” often triggers negative images of self-righteous attitudes that exalt rigid rules over grace. But the notion of biblical righteousness is about human flourishing. That is why “justice” often accompanies “righteousness.” Biblical justice focuses on the actions needed to “put things right” to restore human flourishing. 
 
“Righteousness is not about an abstract moral standard to which we need to adhere perfectly but rather about living faithfully in each of our relationships. As one biblical scholar writes, ‘There is no norm of righteousness outside of that of personal involvement. When people fulfill the conditions imposed on them by relationships, they are righteous.’ Just like justice, righteousness is concerned for the community. At its core, righteousness is about loving others more than it is about ourselves” (The Justice Calling).
 
Perhaps we can interpret Proverbs 14:34 this way: “Living and loving faithfully in all our relationships exalts a nation, but anger and hatred destroys God’s vision for human flourishing for all.” 
 
In the days ahead, may true righteousness be evident in you.

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