by Christopher Harbin

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Economic Righteousness (22 of 52)
Series: Discipleship
Christopher B. Harbin
Job 31:16-34

Righteousness is a word we know pretty well. We have heard it applied to issues of morality, theology, and standing before the law. We have heard righteousness applied to questions of holding to what are deemed correct beliefs, living in God's forgiveness, and enjoying God's favor. We hear of righteousness in Paul's writings related to questions of living by faith instead of living according to the mandates of law. In the Bible, however, righteousness has far broader meanings that relate to how we treat on another than might be apparent after listening in on the majority of our Bible studies, worship services, and even seminary classes.

One of the major themes in the Bible in regard to righteousness has to do with economic issues. For a society with a history of colonialism tied to Christianity, this is not a theme that has often been picked up. We have not looked seriously at the economic motifs in the Bible as they relate to questions of righteousness before God. When the church has a cozy relationship with legal structures, economic structures, and the interests of the wealthy, it is not a simple thing to dig into the depths of what the Bible has to say to issues of economics. At times, we are simply afraid of what we will find when we embark on that journey of discovery. The Bible has a lot to say on economic issues, but my own tradition has been to ignore most of that as being less than spiritual. We choose to focus on the more holy aspects of spirituality as we see it, instead of doing justice to the teachings about justice and righteousness that crop up all through the Bible.

We can take a look at Job as a case in point. We are used to looking at Job as an example of righteousness. We are used to hearing about how he did not dishonor God in the face of great adversity. We hear how he answered his friends righteously. We speak about how God was proud of Job ...

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