Article of the week: The righteous
16 October 2021
A WORD FROM WILLIAM
Salvationist begins a monthly series reproducing messages that William Booth sent to corps to be read in Sunday meetings
10 NOVEMBER 1907
I HAVE been thinking recently of the happy condition of the righteous. The Bible, as you know, contains many references to their blessedness. It is to be well with the righteous man living, well with him dying, and it is to be well with him for ever.
No matter, then, what sorrow or tribulation or persecution they may be called on to endure, the righteous have the best of it in the long run. The knowledge that we belong to those whom God regards as the righteous will be a strength to us amid all the storms of this life. It will comfort us in the valley of the shadow of death and it will enable us to stand without fear before the great white throne.
It will be quite clear to all that several things go with, or are included in, this confidence.
First, there must be the conscious realisation of the character which belongs to the righteous. Some people are always putting the best possible construction on their own actions and magnifying their own virtues; and yet all the time they are tormented with the horrid remembrance that something is wrong in their lives. They do not belong to the righteous.
You cannot separate the character of the righteous from doing right, and you cannot possess the character of the righteous, and lay claim to the promises that are theirs, unless your conduct is in harmony with righteousness.
It is not a matter of profession, but of action. For example, a man may say, ‘I am a student of the Bible and am familiar with its commandments and its promises. I am joined in fellowship with the righteous. I belong to the Church or I belong to the Army.’ He may do all this, and yet he may not be counted by God among the righteous.
If a man is right, his thoughts will be right. He will love right things and hate evil things. He will act rightly towards God, towards his neighbour, towards his parents, his wife, his family, his friends, his master or his servant.
In a word, the righteous do nothing, wear nothing, eat nothing, go to no place, enter into no partnership, form no companionship, engage in no labour which is not in keeping with what they know to be true and right.
They neither touch, taste, handle nor read anything calculated to injure their body, mind or soul, or that is likely in any way to damage their influence as children of God or lessen their zeal
in his service.
The righteous think of others. They have pity for the poor, they have mercy for the prodigals, they weep over the backslidings of God’s people and they strive and fight for the honour of the Lord and the salvation of sinners.
Do you, my brother, my sister, belong to the righteous? If you do, rejoice and be exceeding glad. But at the same time let your moderation be known unto all men.
1. Beware of the temptation of trusting in your own righteousness. It is the work of God; you must trust only him.
2. Beware of imagining that because you have attained, by the good mercy of God, to your present experience, that you can afford to neglect any one condition by which you were first brought into the full favour of God. You must believe, you must pray, you must deny yourself and take up your cross daily.
3. Beware of thinking that you can maintain your righteousness without increasing in the faith, love and knowledge of God. There can be no standing still.
4. Beware of judging others, especially the ignorant, the poor and the degraded, by the standard that you have set up for yourself. Where much is given, much shall be required.
5. And beware of neglecting to ascribe all honour and praise and glory to the Holy Ghost, to whose aid you owe all that is good, pure and Christlike within you.
But if, on the other hand, you cannot say that you are among the righteous, my brother and sister, what shall I say?
a. Honestly acknowledge before God that you are wrong. That is the first step towards getting right.
b. Put your finger upon what you know in your life to be contrary to the dictates of your conscience and be done with it once and for ever.
c. Claim the forgiveness of God, and hand your life over to him to spend and be spent in doing righteousness.
If you faithfully carry out these instructions it will be well with you here and it will be well with you hereafter. For thus saith the Lord: ‘Say ye to the righteous that it shall be well with him’ (Isaiah 3:10 King James Version).