Friday, August 30, 2019

"Pit Bull Redemption"

Proverbs 10.24; 11.6, 19

“What the wicked fears will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted.” NASU

The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.” NIV

He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life, and he who pursues evil will bring about his own death.” NASU

A friend of mine recently called me a “pit bull.” He meant it as a compliment (I think). “Scriven, once you clamp on, you’re like a pit bull. You never let go.” Does that mean I’m tenacious (a good thing) or stubborn (not so good)? I guess it’s in my nature. There are truths I am compelled to clamp my jaws on and never let go of.

The book of Proverbs contains about one hundred and seventy verses on the subject of “righteousness,” contrasting good and evil, right and wrong. Righteousness, in the fullest biblical, sense is impossible for human beings to attain alone. Quoting the Hebrew Scriptures (Psalm 14.1-3; 53.1-3), the Apostle Paul stated, “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3.10). 

Righteousness is conferred, not earned. It is a gift from God for anyone who believes in His Son. Jesus paid the price for a ‘right relationship’ with God. That’s the only reason anyone has even the remotest possibility of being “righteous.” We are made righteous, not born that way. We cannot earn righteousness. It’s a freebie from heaven, not a label we can ever deserve.

According to King Solomon, the largest contributing author of a book we call Proverbs, righteousness is a big deal. “The desires of the righteous will be granted” and their “righteousness… delivers them” when they are in trouble. And for the pit bulls in the crowd…

“He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain life.”

I once met a woman who described a conversation she had with her young son. The boy inquired, “Mom, am I going to go to heaven?” The woman responded, “Why sure, honey. Try hard to be good and keep going to church. You’ll get there.”

It’s easy to conclude that our personal righteousness (i.e., kind and good behavior, church attendance, petting dogs, walking old ladies across the street, living by the golden rule, obedience to the law, adherence to a moral code, personal integrity, never littering, always being nice and saying, “Have a good day” to everyone, even strangers, etc.) will earn us a spot in heaven. Nothing could be less true. If it were true, no one would get there. We are all infected by the same spiritual disease called sin. That’s why Paul and David rightly concluded “There is none righteous, not even one.” I don’t deserve heaven. If I get what I deserve when I die, I’ll be heading for the ‘other place.’

I will remain as “steadfast” as a pit bull to this truth… Jesus spilled His blood for my sins. He is my ticket to heaven. If I am righteous, I am so because He is. I am only righteous because He made me that way. I am righteous because He said so. I am righteous by faith in Him, not of my own accord or by my own doing. My “righteousness” is not about me. It’s all about Him!

“...not having a righteousness of my own derived from the
Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness
which comes from God on the basis of faith...
Philippians 3.9 NASU

This is a truth I must clamp my jaws on and never let go of.

Note: The beautiful sketch above is entitled “Dusty Grrrrr" and created by Chuck Rose. It is a picture of the artist in a playful game of “tug of war” with his dog about whom he says “just doesn't know how to let go.” I am inspired by the drawing (and the concept). You can view Mr. Rose’s fabulous art at his own blog site at

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