Proverbs 1:1-7


            One of the best aspirations for the New Year is the pursuit and accumulation of wisdom.  This is what the book of Proverbs is all about.  Specifically, to have wise dealings is to grow in three related yet distinct areas:  righteousness; justice; and, equity.
             Righteousness or righteous living is a relational term in Scripture.  It means to have right relationships with both God and other people.  In other words, righteousness is to experience peaceful and fruitful relations.  Concerning God, it is to know the wonderful freedom and joy of an unhindered relationship through Jesus Christ in dependence upon the Holy Spirit.  When it comes to fellow human relations, a person characterized by righteousness does not, for example, let the sun go down on his/her anger.  It is to know peace and to be a peacemaker so that relationships do not remain strained but enjoy harmony.
             Justice is a related term to righteousness.  We might tend toward primarily understanding justice as a punitive act.  It certainly is part of the term; God responds and acts in justice toward those who withhold righteousness and love through uncaring or evil events.  But justice is mostly concerned with providing a person with basic needs of life.  So, for example, if someone is hungry and needs food, or does not have clean water to drink, it is a just act for us to provide those necessities of life.  God is deeply concerned for justice, and he expects his people to act in this same manner.
             Equity binds righteousness and peace together by not being prejudice toward relationships and needs.  It means to not show favoritism.  Therefore, if we are righteous and just only toward people we like but ignore others in need, there is no equity.  To give our love and service to all without strings attached or without being concerned to get paid back is the practice of equality.
             To live in these ways of righteousness, justice, and equity is to be wise in our dealings.  A good place to start in pursuing these biblical virtues is to ask God to open our eyes to those within our sphere of influence in which we can demonstrate such wise living; and, then, follow through with loving those persons in which God brings into our lives.
             Righteous God, help me to grow in wisdom.  Teach me your ways.  Since you are a just God who shows no favoritism, lead me into being just like you in my dealings with others with Jesus as my example in the strength of your Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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