So here's a quick little encouragement for those of you who may be struggling to find purpose or direction in your lives.
Psalms 37:23 says, "The steps of the righteous man are ordered by the Lord."
As christians, it can be so easy to cripple ourselves with the fear of being outside of the Lord's will. Somehow even though we have been made free in Christ, we can still find ourselves slaves to doubt. We know we are supposed to serve him with our lives, and we know that we are all called to make disciples of all nations, yet we find ourselves standing absolutely still waiting on God to give us some sort of undeniable direction to walk out his plan for our individual purpose in this life. We often look back and realize we've spent years doing nothing for the kingdom because we were waiting... for what? The audible voice of God? A supernatural vision? A dream?
When we live our lives this way, that scripture in psalms tends to read more like this..."The steps of the righteous man are taken by the Lord". As if God is saying, "Just sit tight... When I'm ready for you to do something, I'll pick up our feet and move them for you."
Instead, what we learn here is that we have a responsibility as righteous people to take steps ourselves, in faith, trusting God to direct them. So that leaves only one stone unturned... What makes a man "righteous"? Doesn't the scripture also tell us that "no man is good, no not one"?(Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 3:10)
How then are we even qualified to take these steps? Wow, we can certainly tie our brain in knots trying to figure this out.
What does the bible say about righteousness?
Well obviously we know that scripture tells us that "our righteousness is as filthy rags"(Isaiah 64:6) and that Jesus' sacrifice was and is the only acceptable sacrifice for our sin. That when God the Father looks at us as believers he doesn't see us in light of our sin...He sees us in light of his son who has delivered us from our sin. So, in all actuality our own "righteousness" isn't even a factor here. How could it be? It's only through the application of the blood of Jesus, that we are seen as righteous by God.
But that is more to do with our eternity. How does that apply to our daily walk here in this life on earth. Especially when trying to analyze this scripture in Psalms.
Now, admittedly, this can open up a theological can of worms regarding "faith and works", although among those who like to debate this issue vigorously, it tends to come across as "faith vs. works" which does a tremendous disservice to the reputation of both.
But side-stepping that debate entirely, here's what we know..."Faith without works is dead"(James 2:20) Whether you choose to believe that means "faith" makes "works" possible, or that "works" make "faith" possible, there is one absolutely clear and unavoidable truth...You do not have one without the other, according to scripture. So it would seem that the best route for learning what the bible says about "righteousness", is to study what it says about "faith". And when it comes to faith, its hard to find a more compelling case study than Abraham.
(Hebrews 11:8-19) provides a beautiful overview:
"8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance,obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.""Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3)
And so it seems to all really boil down to faith.
Do you really believe God? I'm not asking if you simply believe him in regards to how you'll spend eternity. Do you trust him with your life, here and now?
Many of us make the crucial error of placing our faith in Jesus, and figuring, "Well, I appreciate what you did for me on the cross. I accept it, and believe it, but I'll take it from here". This isn't usually an intentional thing. It's actually quite easy to do without even realizing it.
So then, where does faith come from? "Consequently, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"(Romans 10:17)
Because we are still currently dealing with sinful flesh that constantly desires to be in the driver's seat, our spirit is left riding around in the back thirsty for the word of God to renew it and empower it.
Then, the same arrogance that causes us to take back control of our own lives ironically results in constant doubt over whether or not we're doing the right things with it.
So back to our scripture in Psalms... "The steps of the righteous man are ordered by the Lord"
If you are struggling to know God's will for your life...If you can't seem to make a decision about where to go, or what to do next...If you find yourself unfulfilled and without any sense of purpose...
Do a simple check up on the status of your faith level...Ask yourself "when was the last time I really spent time in the word?" Is it possible that your doubt, and lack of vision/direction is simply due to neglecting that word? My guess is that you'll be shocked to discover just how long it has been.
So what are you waiting for? Bury yourself into his word, build up your faith, and get out there and start taking some steps!