I know your ambition is to be a rich businessman or woman, or a famous musician, or a renowned writer. But is it possible for me to change your ambition in just one article? Can I possibly alter fundamentally the desires of your heart?
Let’s give it a try.
Jesus does not say: “Blessed are not those who hunger and thirst to be doctors, lawyers and wealthy.” He says instead: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.” (Matthew 5:6).
Do you want to be righteous? If so, how determined are you? What are you prepared to do to secure the righteousness of God?
Do you know what Tiger Woods did in order to become Tiger Woods? Do you know what Aliko Dangote did in order to become Aliko Dangote? What are you prepared to do in order to become exactly like Jesus Christ?
Pride of Life
A friend of mine overheard me ordering recharge cards for my cellphone. “How much are you ordering?” he wanted to know. “Why are you asking?” I wondered. Then he showed me his phone. He had recharged it to the tune of one million naira. Just imagine that! That was his pride of life.
“Have you seen my new car, the 2021 model? It moves at the speed of light.” “I just bought a new cell-phone. This one recognizes my voice and can have a conversation with me.” “You won’t believe my new Rolex wristwatch. If I call any major city in the world, it will immediately tell me what time it is there.”
Our ambitions are often defined by the pride of life. “What do you want to have achieved by 5 years’ time?” “By 5 years, I hope to have a yacht.” “By 5 years’ time, I hope to have my very own private plane.”
“We are not heirs of what God has. We are heirs of who God is.”
But do you ever say: “By 5 years’ time, I hope to have stopped telling lies entirely.” “By 5 years’ time, I hope to have stopped lusting in my heart.” “By 5 years’ time, I hope to have stopped quarreling.” Jesus says only those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be fulfilled. Buying a yacht will not satisfy you. Neither will you be satisfied by becoming the owner of a jet-plane.
Glory of God
Is God proud? As far as I am concerned, God is the only person in the universe that can be proud. Man has absolutely nothing to be proud of. But then, what can God possibly be most proud about? One thing is for sure. God is very jealous of his glory. He says: “I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” (Isaiah 42:8).
What precisely is the glory of God? What is God most proud of? The glory of God is God’s character. The glory of God is the righteousness of God.
When Moses asked to see the glory of God, what did he see? “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.’” (Exodus 34:6).
God is extremely proud of his righteousness. His divine nature sets him apart from everybody else. It makes him unique and it is the best thing he can give to anybody. That was his plan for us from the beginning of creation when he said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26).
If we are to be in the image and likeness of God, we must be: “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:4).
Righteousness of men
This creates a fundamental dilemma because man cannot be righteous like God. Says Eliphaz the Temanite: “What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous? If God puts no trust in his saints, and the heavens are not pure in his sight, how much less man, who is abominable and filthy, who drinks iniquity like water!” (Job 15:14-16).
Bildad the Shuhite concurs: “If even the moon does not shine, and the stars are not pure in his sight, how much less man, who is a maggot, and a son of man, who is a worm?” (Job 25:5-6).
So then, with man, righteousness is impossible. But let us not forget: “With God, nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37).
Hoping against hope
God promised Abraham a son when he was past child-bearing age. As a matter of fact, the scriptures say Abraham’s body was already dead. In order to have a child in his old age, Abraham had to believe in God. God had to become the hope of Abraham.
If our hope is in God, we can never lose hope. If our hope is in God, it is never too late. If our hope is in God, the situation is never hopeless.
Against hope, Abraham believed in hope. He knew it was impossible, yet he believed that God would make him the father of many nations. God then accounted Abraham’s faith for righteousness.
What would God have us hope against hope for today? He would have us believe he will make us righteous. He wants us to believe that the day will come when we will not be able to sin anymore. No unrighteous thought would come into our mind ever again. We would hate nothing and no one but only love. We would love God with all our heart and love our neighbor as Christ loves us.
This is our hope in God, and it is hope that does not disappoint. It is this hope in God that is the anchor of the soul.
Rain of righteousness
At some juncture in the ages to come, God will issue a decree: “Rain down, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together. I, the Lord, have created it.” (Isaiah 45:8).
Yes: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23). Nevertheless, God wants us to share in his glory by making us righteous. To assure us that he will fulfill this solemn promise, he gives us the Holy Spirit, who is our hope of glory.
“God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” (Colossians 1:27)
Christ in you, the hope of glory. The righteousness of God is our hope of glory. We are heirs of God. We are not heirs of what God has. We are heirs of who God is: “(Therefore) we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” (Galatians 5:5).
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3).