July 4, 2004
”Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”
Righteousness, or that which is just and proper in God’s eyes, exalts a nation. And the United States of America, our great nation, is a beautiful example of this.
Our country is and has been the major power in the entire world. How did this come about? Was it a fluke? Or is there a logical reason to explain it?
Alexis de Tocqueville, 1805-1859, was so intrigued by what made our country “tick” that he personally came here and traveled extensively for first-hand knowledge of the freedom and democracy in our land. He wrote down his observations and later penned the famous Democracy in America. This is what he said about the key to our genius and power:
In the end, the state of the Union comes down to the character of the people.…I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors, her ample rivers, and it was not there. I sought for it in the fertile fields, and boundless prairies, and it was not there. I sought it in her rich mines, and vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.
I hope you noticed the golden nugget that Monsieur de’ Tocqueville discovered: “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness….” The greatness of America did not come about by chance. It did not come about by human effort. Rather, America’s greatness came about as its people pursued God and His righteousness!
Our government “of the people, by the people and for the people” is not common. It’s not arbitrary. It is by design. Wise, godly leaders, caring about freedom and with a sense of personal accountability to God, their fellow man and posterity, invested their lives and fortunes to lay the foundation for this great nation.
God is a God of righteousness and these words of De’Tocqueville’s confirm His Holy Scripture. The LORD is always above reproach. His hand is on those that are righteous (Psalm 1:6)
We Americans need to remember this each morning, as we get ready for the day. It’s not beating the other guy at the stop light or out-maneuvering the competition, that makes you or I great, even though we must remain competitive. It’s doing things fairly, treating the customer with respect and working tirelessly to provide a quality product. A solid future is based on solid values.
The opposite of righteousness is sin. And the consequence of sin is the opposite consequence of righteousness: reproach.
It’s simple: do you want exaltation or reproach? No person, in his right mind, wants reproach. We all want to be commended for our lives. No one desires to live a life only to be condemned for it, in the end.
In order to receive exaltation and to avoid reproach, we must be righteous and not sinful. How can we do this?
Simply put, we can only do this one way: with God’s help. We move toward sin like a flame draws a moth! To become righteous, we must turn to Christ and turn away from our own efforts to make ourselves good enough for God. Our efforts are guaranteed to come up short. Only what Christ did, on the cross, is fully adequate to make us completely clean of all our guilt and sin. Trust in Christ today. Your heart will be aflame with His righteousness, not reproach.