‘Today we conclude our series of Sunday Bible studies in line with our theme for the year which is “A church awaiting the Lord’s Return”
Our Lord made it clear during his earthly ministry that only the righteous will benefit when he returns to gather the elect.
“For I say to you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5: 20 (KJV).
What does it mean to be righteous? It means to be morally right and good in all things. To have the nature of God.
The Pharisees and the scribes were very religious. They observed all religious laws and feasts, attended vigils, fasted and prayed regularly, yet our Lord insists that unless our righteousness exceed that of the Pharisees and scribes we shall in no way enter the kingdom of heaven. In other words unless our righteousness goes beyond religious acts of regular fellowship, fasting and prayer, etc there is deem hope for the kingdom.
We are admonished in our readings today to be diligent and righteous in all we do. Our old Testament reading (Deut. 24: 10 – 15) gives us guidelines on how to relate with our poor neighbours, our workers, our domestic servants and all those under our authority, we are warned to be careful in order not to exploit them or take advantage of their weaknesses.
Through Paul’s letter to Timothy his son in the Lord, (2 Timothy 4: 1- 8) we are reminded that Christ will surely come to judge the righteous and the unrighteous. And because some people would like to live their lives outside the truth of the gospel, they will turn away from listening to the truth and accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their desires.
The gospel (Mark 10: 28 – 30) tells us that the only way to live righteously is by totally surrendering to Jesus – our treasurers, our talents and our time. The first step to living our lives to please God is to give our lives to Jesus. Consider a simple exercise like giving. Some people struggle with themselves to do it to no avail because they have not given their lives to Jesus. Paul said that the Macedonian church were a giving church because they first gave themselves to Jesus. (2 Corinthian 8). The word of God assures those who surrender what they have for the work of God of reward both here and in heaven.
Paul at his departure looked back and declared “… And the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith, from now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will give me on that day …” (2 Tim. 4: 6b – 8a).
Looking back at the treasures, talents, time, opportunities and responsibilities that God gave us, how many people in the church at the times of our departure can say like Paul “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race I have kept the faith, from now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness?”.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
- Governments these days embark on bogus projects while owing workers salary areas and private employers change exotic cars at will, go on avoidable oversea tours, acquire big houses etc while they pay their employees irregular “peanuts” Read Duet. 24: 14– 15 again and discuss the moral and social implications of these practices.
- Jesus has promised benefits of hundredfold for all those who surrender what they prize most in this world for God’s work and righteousness’ sake, He also promised eternal life (Mark 10: 30). Why do some people still behave like the rich young ruler in Luke 18: 18ff.
- “For the time is coming, when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their desires and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths” (2 Tim. 4: 3 & 4). How relevant is this passage to our present time?
- “Righteousness exalts a nation. But sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14: 34). Discuss this statement as it concerns us as a nation and as individuals.
In our heavenly race, the evil one has planted things along the track that seem attractive but they are mere distractions. Only those who run, avoiding these traps, pressing forward to the mark will be crowned with the crown of righteousness.
MEMORY VERSE – 2 TIMOTHY 4: 7 – 8
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Lord Jesus help me in my heavenly race that I may win the crown of righteousness.