Do The Right Thing.
“This is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent!” – Jeremiah 22:3 NLT
True righteousness reveals itself in right living. A real relationship with God will make a real difference in the way we live our lives. God expects His people to live as if they really know Him. But when He looked at the people of Judah – His chosen people – He saw a dichotomy. Their lives did not exhibit an understanding of His ways or a knowledge of His character. God specifically called the leadership of the nation to account, exposing their flawed character and self-centered tendencies. He accuses the kings of Judah of practicing injustice, oppressing the people, and murdering the innocent. Their actions did not reflect a knowledge of God. They may have been the kings over the people of God, but they did not live as if they knew God. Over and over again in these three chapters God uses Jeremiah to bring a message of indictment on the kings of Judah. He calls them to “Give justice each morning to the people you judge! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Otherwise, my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins” (Jeremiah 21:12 NLT). He tells them to “Attend to matters of justice. Set things right between people. Rescue victims from their exploiters. Don’t take advantage of the homeless, the orphans, the widows. Stop the murdering!” (Jeremiah 22:3 MSG). This wasn’t just about the sins of commission such as idolatry. It was about the sins of omission – like failing to do what was right, neglecting to provide justice to the oppressed and protection to the poor and helpless. God recalls the reign of Josiah, the last good king Judah had seen. He said He had blessed Josiah because he “was just and right in all his dealings” (Jeremiah 22:15b NLT). “He upheld the cause of the poor and needy. So things went well for Judah” (Jeremiah 22:16a NET).
Then God asks a sobering and rhetorical question: “Isn’t that what it means to know me?” To know God is to live for God. It is to live a life that reveals a heart for the things of God – like justice, mercy, compassion, and righteousness. It is to love what He loves and hate what He hates. But the kings of Judah had become enamored with their power and corrupted by their positions. Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, had put more value on contructing his royal palace than building a reputation as a man after God’s own heart. But God told him, “a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!” (Jeremiah 22:15a NLT). Jehoiakim had all the outward trappings of success, but lacked a knowledge of God. He failed to do the right thing. He was not motivated by the things of God. His life was marked by greed and dishonesty, excess and self-centeredness.
We can claim to know God, but if our lives do not reflect a heart for the things of God, we end up living a lie. We can brag about having a relationship with God, but if it doesn’t show up in our actions and attitudes, it ends up being a lie. The knowledge of God is not academic, but practical and personal. It makes a difference in the way we live. It changes our relationships. It determines our actions. It dictates our behavior. Because we know Him, we want to live in obedience to Him. His ways become our ways. His heart influences our hearts. His desires become our desires. His character influences our own character. We end up living what He loves: mercy, compassion, justice, righteousness – and hating what He hates: injustice, greed, dishonesty, hypocrisy, oppression. Isn’t that what it really means to know Him?
Father, may our lives truly reflect that we know You – that we have a relationship with You. Don’t let us say one thing and do another. May the way we live our lives reveal that we truly know You. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men