“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but [it is] righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 13:17).

In his letter to Rome, Paul passionately spoke of three characteristics of the kingdom of God. The first is righteousness. For Paul, righteousness comes not by the right observance of religious rituals, or by what we do or by what we do not eat or drink—but rather by faith in Jesus Christ, who became our righteousness by taking our place on the cross. It is Christ who makes us righteous. Our righteousness then leads us to hate what is wrong and to hold tightly to what is good, and to delight in honoring God and each other.

Our right thinking and talking will produce in us right walking before God, and before our sisters and brothers. Our righteousness will lead us to know Paul’s second characteristic of the kingdom—peace. Peace is having calmness and tranquility amidst the turbulence of life, when all else seems to be falling apart.

Having God’s peace will produce is us a fountain of joy—Paul’s third characteristic. Joy springs from the inside to the outside. Joy is not dependent on any of life’s circumstances. This joy of the Holy Spirit springs from the peace we find as we live within the righteousness of Christ—within the very kingdom of God!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for making us righteous before God. Amen.
Though for the day: Real joy is walking rightly with God.

–Vance Havner (In “Truth for Each Day“)
January/February 2014