“Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor.”
~ Proverbs 21:21 NIV
So often the day begins so positively. I’m awake early; the morning is quiet and full of possibilities. The coffee is strong and the birds are singing away. I am studying the Word, leaning in to hear the Father’s voice. My to-do list for the day is organized. I am a warrior ready to take this day by storm.
And then my children wake up. The needs are loud and urgent. One can’t find her Star Wars t-shirt that she had hoped to wear to school; one needs help spreading peanut butter on her toast. The quiet of the morning is quickly forgotten in the face of lunches to prepare, errands to run, work to complete, homework to supervise, dinner to cook, house to clean, and an overwhelming need to sleep.
Surely, we’ve all had days like this. We begin the day with every intention of pursuing excellence in motherhood, in discipleship, in being an encouraging wife, in self-care. But though the day ends with a mostly completed to-do list, we often feel unsettled, not reaching any of the heights we set out to pursue.
Perhaps the obstacle isn’t in the chaotic day, but rather in the quiet morning. Perhaps the aims of pursuit need attention.
We want to…
- be excellent at what the Lord has given us to do.
- be excellent wives and mothers, remembering all of the school supplies and field trip permission forms and grocery needs.
- be excellent in the workplace, finding creative solutions to challenging problems.
- be excellent friends, remembering important life events and being available for whatever needs arise.
We build our to-do lists each morning with the end goal of achieving excellence at all the Lord has put before us.
And yet, we are not called to pursue excellence, but rather righteousness.
Proverbs 21:21 teaches that, “Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor.” We are implored to seek after the right pursuits. Be patient with our people. Temper our words. Think before we speak. Stay humble. We are to seek to love others loyally, steadfastly, purely. And in doing so, we will find life, prosperity, and honor. What could those gifts look like practically? Choosing to pursue righteousness and love will lead to finding joy. Rather than the stress of constantly wondering if we measure up to the standards the world places on women, we will find confidence in our identities as daughters of the Most High. We will look more like Jesus.
So, what distracts me from pursuing righteousness and love? These goals are much harder to cross off a to-do list. These pursuits require the Holy Spirit’s influence to accomplish. I cannot pursue righteousness and love without the consistent communion with the Father. I must invite him into my to-do list making and let his presence influence the goals for the day.
Another quiet morning arrives for you and for me. His mercies are “new every morning,” the author of Lamentations teaches; the pursuit begins anew (Lamentations 3:23). Rather than simply drinking our coffee and writing out today’s to-do list, let’s pause and pray first.
Lord Jesus, what would pursuing righteousness and love look like today?
As I think through the people with whom I will interact today, the errands I need to run, and the special challenges today will present, I add a few ideas to the list. Today I will pursue not thinking I know better when a colleague is sharing an idea in our planning meeting. When I’m sitting at that playdate this afternoon, I will listen more than I speak. I will pray before I discipline my kids. I will let assumptions have no place in my mind today. I will not grumble as I prepare dinner tonight.
Yes, the pursuit of righteousness and love is an imperfect one, rife with setbacks and restarts. Amid all the other demands of the day, pursuing righteousness and love needs to be at the top of the list. Jesus implores believers to “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you,” (Matthew 6:33). Seek God’s righteousness and love, and all of the to-do list items will be crossed off in due time and, even more so, lose their urgency in light of peace that comes from doing things Jesus’ way.
Reflect + Respond
What are things that distract you from pursuing righteousness? What part of your day can you ask Jesus into for this day?
Show me what pursuing righteousness and love look like today, please Father.
Let’s spend some time meditating on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:25-34, asking the Lord to reveal what “seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness” practically looks like for the day ahead.