See Luminosity

The Kiss

The Kiss

I found the verse on one of my “I just need to hear a word from the Lord” random Bible openings. I’d already done my regular, organized devotion, but felt like I needed more words from Him. I do this periodically – just open up and see where I land.

This time it was on Psalm 85.

And the verse popped out at me, first thing. I immediately knew it was “the word” I’d been looking for.

The Verse

Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.
12 The Lord will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
13 Righteousness goes before him
and prepares the way for his steps.

March 31st had been a hard day. Our first Easter without our son, and the day he would have been 8 months old. Oh, and my birthday, which just reminded me that with every month my window of opportunity for having more children was closing. It was a day for celebrating the resurrection when I felt, in many ways, as if it were still Good Friday.

But the Lord reminded me, with these verses, what He is doing.

Righteousness and peace kiss each other.

The irony is that I had just written an article about the difficulty of the 31st, and Jesus’ words in John 20 to doubting Thomas…words of peace. Peace because of believing Him, and that He truly did bring life out of death.

Jesus put an addendum to the article for me with these verses from Psalm 85.

To have peace, I need to not only believe that He brings resurrection out of the deaths of life, but I need to become righteous. Belief is not simply enough; to truly have peace, to be at peace, my inside must be changed. It must be changed to good – changed to be like Him.

Righteousness and peace kiss each other. You can’t fully have peace without righteousness.

Righteousness, as verse 13 says, “goes before him and prepares the way for his steps”. It is righteousness that enables the Lord to do His best work. The more righteous and like Christ we are, the more power He can pour in us and through us. And the more He can bless us.

Why?

Well, I’ve got to do a mini theology lesson for a minute, to get this.

Justification Vs. Sanctification

Yes, God’s Spirit enters us at the point of salvation, and releases us from the nature of sin. We are declared righteous by God, because God see Christ’s righteousness because of what He did on the cross, rather than our sin. In other words, in the cosmic court of right and wrong, we are guilty, but don’t have to do any time because someone else served our sentence for us. The demands of the law were met by Christ. This is called justification, and is something granted instantaneously to us by God’s grace alone through faith – not through anything we do ourselves (other than accepting it).

  •  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • ”We know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16).

The problem is that even though we are declared righteous (because, out of grace, Christ’s sacrifice paid the sin debt we owed), that doesn’t mean we are righteous.

Just like the thief in court got off because someone else served his time on his behalf – he is still a thief.  Actually becoming righteous is a process called sanctification. It comes from the Holy Spirit’s work within us, as we daily choose Him over ourselves and are obedient to His word. Whereas justification (which is how we are saved) comes from outside of us, without any effort on our part whatsoever, sanctification comes from the Holy Spirit within us, as we make daily choices to be conformed to the image of Christ.

  • “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified… For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (1 Thessalonians 4:3,7).
  • “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
  • “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

So we are saved by justification, but we are made like Him through sanctification, through the process of becoming righteous.

The Rewards of Righteousness

And sanctification has its rewards.

It’s not enough that God gives us eternal life – He wants, unbelievably, to give us so much more. Gifts we only receive by becoming righteous.

  • ”Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
  • “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:25).
  • “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).
  • “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” (Psalm 37:5-6).
  • “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10).
  • “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
  • “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
  • “The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in his sight” 2 Samuel 22:25
  • “A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward “(Proverbs 11:18).
  • “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven….But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”(Matthew 6:1-4).
  • “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy” (Hebrews 1:9).
  • “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth” (Psalm 58:11).
  • “Blessings crown the head of the righteous…” (Proverbs 10:6).
  • ““I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10).

Justification gets us eternal life with Christ. Sanctification gets us abundant life – the full experience of God’s blessings – here and in eternity.

Suffering to Experience Blessing

So, through sanctification we become righteous – we become more like Christ. Instead of just being declared righteous by God, we actually become righteous. So He can bless us. And use us. And bless us by using us.

And God’s best tool for sanctification is suffering.

These daily deaths that I experience – the death of longing for my baby, the death of worry about the future, the death of seeing my children mourn their brother, the death of stress over my kids’ education, the death of arguments with my husband – they are what allow me to be sanctified, to be changed into His image. It is going through these deaths that transforms my soul and puts me in the position to be able to fully enjoy His blessings. It is the need and the humility and pain that breaks my pride, my reliance on self and my incessant distraction with things of this world, and replaces it with a desperate desire for Him, and for what only He can provide.

Experiencing the deaths, while relying on Him, puts us on the path toward righteousness.

Hebrews 12:10-12 says, “God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

We can’t fully become sanctified – we can’t fully become who God intends for us to be, or experience all of the blessings He intends to give us – without suffering. Without the deaths. It takes the deaths to make us righteous. And it takes righteousness to get peace, and all of the other blessings the Lord wants to bestow upon us.

Isaiah 32:17 says, “The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”

And Psalm 85:10 says…

Righteousness and peace kiss each other.

God is using every one of these moments of suffering, of these reverberations of pain to bring about righteousness within me. To sanctify me. And, by doing so, to bring me peace. It is righteousness, through suffering, that prepares the way for Him to give me, as verse 12 says, “what is good”.

That is a lot of power from a kiss. And I’ll take it. Because, like all kisses, it comes out of love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Response to “The Kiss”

  1. Loresa Heyward says:

    Love your insight. I couldn’t help but reflect on Romans 12:1-2 (“be transformed by the renewing of your mind”) as I read your words.

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