Love Righteousness With All Your Heart
“You loved righteousness.”—HEB. 1:9.
1. What will help us to follow “the tracks of righteousness”?
BY MEANS OF his Word and his holy spirit, Jehovah is leading his people in “the tracks of righteousness.” (Ps. 23:3) Since we are imperfect, however, we tend to deviate from that path. To return to doing what is right calls for determined effort. What will help us to succeed? Like Jesus, we must love doing what is right.——Ps. 45:7; read Hebrews 1:9.
2. What are “the tracks of righteousness”?
2 What are “the tracks of righteousness”? A track is a narrow footpath or trail. These “tracks” are determined by Jehovah’s standard of righteousness. In Hebrew and Greek, “righteousness” refers to that which is “upright,” implying a strict adherence to moral principles. Since Jehovah is “the abiding place of righteousness,” his worshippers are happy to look to him to determine the morally upright path that they should follow.—Jer. 50:7.
3. How can we learn more about God’s righteousness?
3 Only by striving with all our heart to conform to God’s righteous standards will we be found fully pleasing to him. (Deut. 32:4) That begins with learning all we can about Jehovah God from his Word, the Bible. The more we learn about him, drawing closer to him every day, the more we will love his righteousness. (Jas. 4:8) We must also accept the guidance of God’s inspired Word when we are called upon to make important decisions in life.
Seek God’s Righteousness
4. What is involved in seeking God’s righteousness?
4 Read Matthew 6:33. Seeking God’s righteousness involves more than our spending time preaching the good news of the Kingdom. For our sacred service to be acceptable to Jehovah, our everyday conduct must harmonize with his high standards. What has to be done by all who are seeking Jehovah’s righteousness? They must “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.”—Eph. 4:24.
5. What will help us to overcome discouragement?
5 As we strive to live up to God’s righteous standards, we may sometimes become discouraged because of our shortcomings. What can help us to overcome debilitating discouragement and learn to love and practice righteousness? (Prov. 24:10) We must regularly approach Jehovah in prayer “with true hearts in the full assurance of faith.” (Heb. 10:19-22) Whether we are anointed Christians or we have an earthly hope, we exercise faith in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ and in his services as our great High Priest. (Rom. 5:8; Heb. 4:14-16) The effectiveness of Jesus’ shed blood was illustrated in the very first issue of this magazine. (1 John 1:6, 7) The article stated: “It is a singular fact, that [when] a scarlet or crimson object [is] viewed through a red glass in the light, the object appears white; so, though our sins be as scarlet or crimson, when we come where God will view them through the blood of Christ, they are accounted as white.” (July 1879, p. 6) What a marvelous provision Jehovah has made for us through the ransom sacrifice of his dear Son!—Isa. 1:18.
Check Your Spiritual Armor
6. Why is it crucial that we check our spiritual armor?
6 At all times, we need to have on “the breastplate of righteousness,” for it is an essential part of the spiritual armor from God. (Eph. 6:11, 14) Whether we have recently dedicated ourselves to Jehovah or we already have decades of sacred service behind us, it is crucial that we check our spiritual armor every day. Why? Because the Devil and his demons have been cast down to the vicinity of the earth. (Rev. 12:7-12) Satan is angry, and he knows that his time is limited. Thus, he has intensified his attacks on God’s people. Do we appreciate the importance of having on “the breastplate of righteousness”?
7. How will we conduct ourselves if we appreciate our need for “the breastplate of righteousness”?
7 A breastplate protects the physical heart. Because of our imperfect nature, our figurative heart tends to be treacherous and desperate. (Jer. 17:9) Since our heart is inclined to do what is wrong, it is vital that it be trained and disciplined. (Gen. 8:21) If we appreciate our need for “the breastplate of righteousness,” we will not temporarily remove it by choosing to be entertained by what God hates; nor will we allow ourselves to fantasize about engaging in wrongdoing. We will not squander large amounts of valuable time viewing television. Instead, we will keep struggling to do what is pleasing to Jehovah. Even if we were to stumble by momentarily giving in to unrighteous fleshly thinking, we would get up again with Jehovah’s help.—Read Proverbs 24:16.
8. Why do we need “the large shield of faith”?
8 Among the parts of our spiritual armor is “the large shield of faith.” It enables us to “quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles.” (Eph. 6:16) In turn, faith and wholehearted love for Jehovah help us to practice righteousness and remain on the road to everlasting life. The more we learn to love Jehovah, the more we will value his righteousness. But what about our conscience? How does it help us in our efforts to love righteousness?
Maintain a Good Conscience
9. How do we benefit from maintaining a good conscience?
9 At our baptism, we made a request to Jehovah for “a good conscience.” (1 Pet. 3:21) Because we exercise faith in the ransom, the blood of Jesus covers our sins and we thus enjoy a clean standing before God. To remain in a saved condition, however, we need to maintain a good conscience. If our conscience at times accuses us and sounds warnings, we should be grateful that it is working properly. Such proddings indicate that our conscience has not become seared with respect to Jehovah’s righteous ways. (1 Tim. 4:2) But the conscience can play an additional role for those wanting to love righteousness.
10, 11. (a) Relate an experience that shows why we should heed our Bible-trained conscience. (b) Why can a love of righteousness bring us great pleasure?
10 When we do what is wrong, our conscience may condemn or torment us. One youth strayed from “the tracks of righteousness.” He became addicted to pornography and started smoking marijuana. He felt guilty when he went to the meetings and felt like a hypocrite when he shared in the field service, so he stopped participating in these Christian activities. “But,” he stated, “little did I know that my conscience would hold me accountable for my actions.” He added, “My stupidity lasted for about four years.” Then he started to think about returning to the truth. Although he thought that Jehovah would not listen to his prayer, he prayed anyway and asked for forgiveness. Less than ten minutes later, his mother visited him and encouraged him to return to the meetings. He went to the Kingdom Hall and asked an elder to study with him. In time, he was baptized, and he is thankful to Jehovah for saving his life.
11 Have we not found that great pleasure can be derived from doing what is right? As we learn to love righteousness and practice it more fully, we will find more joy in doing what pleases our heavenly Father. And just think! The day is coming when all humans will experience only feelings of pleasure from their conscience; they will perfectly reflect God’s image. Let us, therefore, now implant a love of righteousness deep in our heart and cause Jehovah to rejoice.—Prov. 23:15, 16.
12, 13. How can we train our conscience?
12 What can we do to train our conscience? When we study the Scriptures and our Bible-based publications, it is important to remember that “the heart of the righteous one meditates so as to answer.” (Prov. 15:28) Consider how this proves beneficial when we face questions regarding employment. If a certain type of work is plainly in conflict with Scriptural requirements, most of us quickly respond to the direction provided through the faithful and discreet slave class. When the answer to an employment question is not clear-cut, however, Bible principles should be noted and considered prayerfully. * This applies to such principles as the need to avoid offending the consciences of others. (1 Cor. 10:31-33) Especially should we be concerned with principles involving our relationship with God. If Jehovah is real to us, we will primarily ask ourselves, ‘Would my doing this work make Jehovah feel hurt, causing him pain?’—Ps. 78:40, 41.
13 When preparing for the Watchtower Study or the Congregation Bible Study, we ought to bear in mind the need to meditate on the information presented. Do we find ourselves always quickly underlining the answer to a study question and moving on to the next paragraph? Such study sessions are unlikely to deepen our love for righteousness or to develop within us a sensitive conscience. If we are to come to love righteousness, we need to study diligently and meditate on what we read in God’s written Word. There are no shortcuts when it comes to learning to love righteousness with all our heart!
Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
14. How do Jehovah God and Jesus Christ want us to feel about our sacred service?
14 Jehovah God and Jesus Christ want us to be happy as we perform our sacred service. What will contribute to our happiness? Why, a love of righteousness! In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stated: “Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, since they will be filled.” (Matt. 5:6) What significance do these words have for those who have a desire to love righteousness?
15, 16. In what ways can spiritual hunger and thirst be satisfied?
15 The world we live in is ruled by the wicked one. (1 John 5:19) If we pick up a newspaper in any country, we find reports of cruelty and violence on an unprecedented scale. Man’s inhumanity to man is troubling for a righteous person to contemplate. (Eccl. 8:9) As those who love Jehovah, we know that only he can satisfy the spiritual hunger and thirst of individuals desiring to learn righteousness. The ungodly will soon be removed, and lovers of righteousness will no longer experience the distress caused by law-defying people and their evil deeds. (2 Pet. 2:7, 8) What a relief that will be!
16 As Jehovah’s servants and followers of Jesus Christ, we realize that all those hungering and thirsting for righteousness “will be filled.” They will be fully satisfied through God’s arrangement of the new heavens and the new earth in which “righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Pet. 3:13) So let us not lose heart or be amazed that oppression and violence have taken away righteousness in this satanic world. (Eccl. 5:8) Jehovah, the Most High, knows what is taking place and will soon deliver lovers of righteousness.
Benefit From Loving Righteousness
17. What are some of the benefits that come from loving righteousness?
17 Psalm 146:8 emphasizes an outstanding benefit of following the path of righteousness. The psalmist sang: “Jehovah is loving the righteous ones.” Just imagine! The Sovereign of the universe loves us for loving righteousness! Because of Jehovah’s love, we are confident that he will provide for us as we keep Kingdom interests first in our life. (Read Psalm 37:25; Proverbs 10:3.) Eventually, this entire planet will be enjoyed by lovers of righteousness. (Prov. 13:22) For most of God’s people, the reward for having practiced righteousness will be overwhelming joy and life without end in a beautiful earthly paradise. Even now, those who love God’s righteousness are rewarded with an inner peace that contributes to harmony in their families and in their congregations.—Phil. 4:6, 7.
18. What positive things can we do as we await Jehovah’s day?
18 As we await the arrival of the great day of Jehovah, we must continue to seek his righteousness. (Zeph. 2:2, 3) Let us, therefore, manifest a genuine love for Jehovah God’s upright ways. That includes keeping “the breastplate of righteousness” firmly in place to protect our figurative heart. We also need to maintain a good conscience—one that will bring pleasure to us and cause the heart of our God to rejoice.—Prov. 27:11.
19. What should we be determined to do, and what will be discussed in the next article?
19 Jehovah’s “eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.” (2 Chron. 16:9) How comforting those words are to us as we do what is right in the face of increasing instability, violence, and wickedness in this troubled world! True, our righteous ways may be puzzling to the masses of mankind alienated from God. But we benefit ourselves greatly by adhering to Jehovah’s righteousness. (Isa. 48:17; 1 Pet. 4:4) So, then, with a complete heart, let us be determined to continue finding enjoyment in loving and practicing righteousness with all our heart. However, having a complete heart also includes hating lawlessness. The following article will show us what this means.
^ par. 12 For a discussion of Bible principles related to employment questions, see The Watchtower of April 15, 1999, pages 28-30.
How Would You Answer?
• Why is appreciation for the ransom necessary in order to love righteousness?
• Why is it vital that we wear “the breastplate of righteousness”?
• How can we train our conscience?
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A trained conscience helps us to resolve employment questions