Holy, righteous, and blessed: three good things that I want to be, that I want for those I love, that I want for the entire world. Who doesn’t?
But what are we really talking about? Do these words mean what we think they mean? Is this really what we want? Let’s define and briefly examine this vital vocabulary of faith.
Holy: Dedicated to and/or claimed by God.
Righteous: Doing things God’s way.
Blessed: Noticed by God.
We too-often think that “holy” means “without sin.” That certainly can be the case, but the Bible tells us of many holy things that are neither with nor without sin: buildings, ideas, sacrifices, actions, etc. Even people can be “holy,” i.e., dedicated to God and claimed by God. But final judgment on sin is going to be levied only at people, not things, and “holy” isn’t something mankind can be if it only means “without sin.”
Righteous – such as if I refer to myself as “being righteous” – is going to be understood by others to mean “Holier than thou,” which connotes of course the presumption that “I have less sin than you” so therefore “I am better” or closer to God or whatever. Not a chance. Romans 3:10-20 is a tidy refutation of any person, on his or her own in mere obedience, being righteous. We are only righteous through faith in Christ; we cannot be righteous on our own.
To be “blessed” is overly-expected, even demanded, by worldly humans to connote divine favor or comfort: we are “blessed” by health, wealth, family, etc. Yet, if blessings are all things “noticed by God,” then certainly we want to share all things with God as blessings no matter what they are. That includes the awful stuff – sickness, poverty, trouble of every kind. Arrogantly and unwisely, we assign blessings on a sliding scale: blaming God for the awful stuff yet crediting ourselves with the good.
We need to look no farther than the nearest mirror to find someone who at least on occasion hopes God won’t notice our self-directedness, favoring man’s temporal convenience over God’s eternal plan.
Walters (email@example.com, www.commonchristianity.blogspot.com) is drawn to people who say they are blessed and runs from people who say they are holy or righteous.