Practical Righteousness Prov.11:4 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
When we get saved, we are given the righteousness of Jesus Christ for our righteousness. Thus, we stand before God justified. Furthermore, we can yield to the work of his righteousness in us and thereby come out from under the dominion of sin in our lives [see Romans 6].
However, in Prov 11, we read several proverbs that deal with practical righteousness rather than Christ’s righteousness. In Proverbs, practical righteousness is opposed to wickedness. It is the righteousness of the law [Deut 6:25] or the righteousness of conscience [Rom 2:14-16]. Hence we call it practical righteousness because it is a product of making the right choices and doing the right things.
According to Prov 11, practical righteousness is very beneficial. Practical righteousness:
Delivers from death – Prov 11:4 [tends to life] Prov 11:19 – when you drive legally, you increase your safety and reduce your chances of a fatal accident to you and to others. There’s practical righteousness in wearing your seat belt, not talking on your cell phone while driving, not texting while you are driving, not driving while intoxicated, not speeding, and so forth. These keep you from death. Whether you are saved or lost it is not right to take illegal drugs or to abuse prescription drugs. Whether you are saved or lost it is not right to be obese; you should exercise control over your appetite. According to the West Virginia Department of Health, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death, right behind tobacco. Whether you are saved or lost it is not right to smoke. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. There are people on death row who, if they had done the right thing, would have been spared the death penalty. Do you understand? There is a direct correlation between practical righteousness and longevity.
Directs your way – Prov 11:5 – wickedness has a path and righteousness has a path – you can ask yourself this question, before undertaking any course of action, “Is this right?” If it is then, practically speaking, you are at liberty to do it. If the answer is “No,” then, practically speaking, don’t do it. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache if you stay on the path of righteousness. If you get on the path of wickedness you will fall. What you are doing may feel good but is it right? If not, stop it. Others may be doing it, but is it right? If not, stop it. You see, righteousness directs your way. All along the way you are going keep looking for sign posts that say, “This is the right way.” If the sign says, “Wrong way,” then don’t go that way.
Delivers you out of trouble – Prov 11:6, 8 – trouble always comes from wickedness; it doesn’t come from righteousness. Righteousness delivers you out of trouble. You might be facing a situation where you think lying will keep you out of trouble. It won’t; it will get you into trouble. You might be contemplating cheating as a way to avoid trouble. If you have to cheat to win you will end up in trouble [just think about athletes on performance enhancing drugs]. Cheaters never win and winners never cheat. Practical righteousness keeps you out of trouble. Don’t commit adultery [just look what happened to David]. Don’t murder [just look what happened to Joab or to Absalom]. Don’t pay bribes and don’t take bribes. Always do the right thing and don’t get into any illegal activity whatsoever and practically speaking you will keep out of trouble.
Yields a sure reward – Prov 11:18, 31 – there is a reward to the righteous for doing righteousness. For Israel, the reward was possession of the land of Canaan, protection from their enemies, and promised blessings from the Lord. The Lord really poured out his blessings on David until he sinned with Bathsheba and killed Uriah. Then trouble struck and never left him alone. Practical righteousness yields for us favor with the Lord, a clean conscience, happiness in marriage, success in business, a good name and reputation, and so forth.
Makes you flourish as a branch – Prov 11:28, 30 – righteousness yields fruit [Prov 12:12]. The fruit of righteousness is peace [Jas 3:18; Heb 12:11]. You can be absolutely sure that if you will do the right thing, you will have peace now and you will bear fruit later. Joseph did the right thing by Potiphar’s wife and yet he wound up in jail for 13 years. Nevertheless, he had peace. And because he did right by the warden, the butler and the baker, he was perfectly prepared to lead the country of Egypt when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream. David did right by Saul; Saul did evil by David. In the end, David flourished and Saul withered.
Conclusion: Bob Jones, Sr. used to say, “Do right,” and “Do right though the stars fall.” It is incumbent upon us as Christians to do right. We above all citizens must live by practical righteousness. Others should find no fault in us as they found no fault in our Savior Jesus Christ.