Let’s continue our look at Heart Motivations in our Guiding and Defining Ideas illustration. We’ve talked about our Passion and Rhythm. Now let’s turn our attention to Our Kingdom Lifestyle: Living with righteousness, justice, mercy, truth, love, and grace.
Some years ago Francis Schaeffer wrote a book titled How Should We Then Live? The Scriptures answer that question. Throughout the Old Testament and much of the New Testament we find a series of Kingdom virtues. Consider the psalmist's words, for instance: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness [truth] go before you” (Psalm 89:14). Taken together, six central virtues capture the essence of the lifestyle we are to live as citizens of the Kingdom.
Virtues are slightly different than values. Values are what we hold dear. Virtues are specific moral qualities that we regard as good. The six virtues listed above are also qualities of God Himself. For instance, “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness [truth] to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. . . . How priceless is your unfailing love!” (Psalm 36:5-7a).
As Navigators, how are we doing in living out these virtues?
Love and grace: In recent years we have grown stronger. I attribute much of that growth to the teachings and writings of Bill Thrall (see The Ascent of a Leader) and the example of our leaders.
Mercy: We are not generally known for our mercy ministries. Nevertheless, mercy is a direct application of the second Great Commandment. When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He responded with the story of a Samaritan who acted with mercy (Luke 10:37).
Truth: This word is often translated as faithfulness because it is a related word. Truthful people are faithful to keep their word and not break their promises or violate their covenants. God is a truthful and faithful God. Jesus said, “I am the Truth.” When we focus only on objective, propositional truth, we miss the central aspect of this virtue.
Righteousness and justice: Righteousness is the standard, the norm. Justice restores “broken” things to a state of righteousness. When you see the phrase “justice and righteousness” in the Scriptures, it connotes justice in the community. God wants us to live righteously and justly in our families and communities and to restore them to health and strength.
“Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right” (Psalm 106:3).
“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (Proverbs 21:3).
The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern” (Proverbs 29:7).
Our Kingdom Lifestyle, again, is this: Living with righteousness, justice, mercy, truth, love, and grace. Which of these is God prompting you to take to a deeper level?