RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH
By Ernest O'Neill
Righteousness by Faith
By Rev. Ernest O'Neill
What makes you find it hard to get up in the morning for work? What is it? Is it the physical exertion that you have to put out at the job? Is it that this job is harder than the last job you had? No, it's not. It's the people you have to confront. It's the secretary with the chip on her shoulder that you have to walk around carefully every day. Or, it's the boss who doesn't trust you or respect you. Or, it's the person that seems to have his knife in you and seems to be trying to lever you out of your position.
Isn't that what wears you out every day? They could give you all the money in the world. They could give you the most beautiful working conditions imaginable but still, you hate to lever yourself out of bed to go to work because the old strain is there all the time. But really the opposite is gloriously true.
The opposite is gloriously true. If you have a finance director or a secretary or a manager or a boss with whom you have a really good relationship, then you just look forward to going to work. It's just so good to be together. In fact, work is a kind of detail that allows you an excuse to cooperate and to communicate with each other. You don't think of the work at all.
It's so good to look forward to being with those people again the next day. You have real freedom from feeling paranoid or feeling that they're criticizing you or that they're judging you. You have confidence in them and they have confidence in you and there's just trust between you. You really feel they'll be out routing for you. They'll be defending you wherever they are and you look forward to meeting them each day. You look forward to being with them and life is just enjoyable. Of course, your work habits show it because you're enthusiastic about going, you're enthusiastic about doing the work, you get it done faster, you come home and you aren't tired. You're ready to do it all over again that evening because of the attitude and the relationship that you have with your colleagues and with the people you work with.
In other words, where there's freedom from the tension between you and another person, that shows itself in the way you act and the way you talk. It affects every detail of your work life. If the relationship between you and your boss or you and your colleagues is right, then the right acts and words and thoughts seem to flow from that right relationship. You know that that's just down-to-earth fact.
Anybody could tell us that that's right whether they believe in God or believe in Christianity or not, that's just a fact. If you've good relationships with the people that you work with, you yourself are a good worker. If you have bad, tense relationships with your colleagues and the people you work with, you in turn are a bad worker and it shows up. That is righteousness through faith. That's right.
That's righteousness through faith. In that situation, it's a faith in each other. It's a faith in one another. In your office there's just a sense of togetherness. In your restaurant, there's a sense of togetherness. In the factory that you work in, there's a sense of togetherness and you feel you can trust each other and you care about each other and you respect each other and you love each other in some sense and so there's a faith in each other. There's a sense of confidence and trust in each other and that produces, if you like, righteousness. It produces attitudes and actions and behavior that are right. That's righteousness through faith or faith righteousness.
The Jews concentrated on trying to be like God by their own independent efforts and he says the only way to become like God is to be right in your relationship with Him. It's interesting that the the Greek word for "righteousness" is "dikaiosune". It means "whatever is right, whatever is meet, whatever is just, and whatever is appropriate." Now what's appropriate for your attitude to your maker? What is an appropriate attitude for all of us here in our attitude to our maker?
Well, it's dead obvious if you think of it. Here you are, all breathing merrily. We are breathing, some of us deeper, some of us shallow, but we're all breathing. Yeah, we are, and yet none of us really know what keeps our breath going. None of us really know what keeps our lungs going in and out. Your heart is beating madly along and yet nobody really knows what starts that beat that comes from the bottom of the heart and goes right through and comes back again.
The medics call it the 'SNA node' or something like that but it doesn't really mean anything, it just describes an area of the heart where they know this beat comes from but they don't know why it comes. You all look pretty steady and yet you're all hurtling through space at thousands of miles an hour and some of us down in Australia are doing it upside down. You know we glibly mumble, "Oh the law of gravity, the law of gravity" and that's it, you know.
We all know the sun is going to come up tomorrow morning but none of us know what power is going to lift it, none of us really know who sets the schedule or how it's set. None of us know why it rises or appears to rise and yet we know it will. And again we glibly mumble, "Oh yeah, the law of gravity, the law of gravity", and it explains nothing because we know that all the law of gravity is doing is trying to describe the power that does all these things and we are absolutely dependent upon that power. We're dependent on the reliability and the consistency of that power to keep on doing these things. Do you realize if that power withdraws a little finger from you, your heart stops beating at this moment?
In other words, we are all existing here on the basis of a mystery, on the basis of a power that we cannot explain. We exist because of a power on which we're absolutely and utterly dependent. In other words, we're all dependent on this power anyways so the only appropriate attitude we can have towards this power is trust, faith. A trust because we're dependent on it anyway for all these things. So the only attitude that is appropriate for us is trust and dependence and faith and that, loved ones, is what is appropriate for creatures to feel towards their creator, that's the right thing to feel. That's how to be right with your creator. It's how to be real with your creator, to live in absolute trust in him and absolute faith in him.