“He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3)
A “good” guide has a destination and knows the best way to get there. However, a “great” guide not only gets you there, but makes sure the journey itself is pleasant. In other words, a great guide makes sure that there is joy in the journey. We have been assured that the destination for our life as a believer is eternity with God and that He will lead us there. Today, let us also be assured that the desire of the Good Shepherd is that you go through this life in “paths of righteousness”…experiencing an “abundant life” (John 10:10). Yes, heaven will be a wonderful blessing and it is one that we look forward to, but this life is to be a blessing as well. This happens when we follow our guide in righteousness.
What is “righteousness”? What differentiates a righteous path? Is it a path that is full of good works? Most of us think of it as doing right things and it is true that doing good things is a result of righteousness. In the Scriptures it tells us that righteous deeds are a testimony of a believers relationship with God. Jesus said, “by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). However, Jesus goes on to say that these “good deeds” need to be the result of a right relationship to God.
“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me…'” (Matthew 7:22, 23)
So, when the Scripture talks about righteousness, it is referring to the state of our relationship with God. To be right with God is to be righteous. Good works are the natural “fruit” of that restored relationship.
So, today we allow our beloved Psalm 23 to take us to the cross again. It is through the sacrifice of the cross that we can have right relationship with our Shepherd. Our sin breaks fellowship with God. When Jesus died on the cross He removed the barrier of sin that kept us from righteousness. He “cleared the path” so to speak. He also, not only removed that which would keeps us from heaven, but He removed all that would keep us from enjoying the abundant life that He has set before us now. In the same passage that Jesus talked about being the Good Shepherd He talked about His purpose,
“But I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10)
The Good Shepherd wants to lead you in paths of righteousness today. That begins with you getting the relationship right. Are you in a good place with the Lord today? Are you “right” with Him? Spend some time in prayer asking God what needs to happen for you to experience the abundant life He has planned for you.
Today, what path are you walking?