Faith and Right Living
Look, his ego is inflated; he is without integrity. But the righteous one will live by his faith. – Habakkuk 2:4 HCSB
Many Christians love to quote Paul’s famous verse, “God's righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.1” It is the flagship verse of those who take grace to the point where they claim that works are totally unrelated to righteousness. But these misguided folk fail to recognize the history behind this verse. Paul is actually quoting Habakkuk who clearly taught that faith is not a one-time event, but a way of living.
One of the basic principles of biblical application and translation is to give emphasis to the way the word is used the first time it appears in Scriptures. The Hebrew word for faith is “emunah” and it is first found in the story of the Israelites' battle with the Amalekites. We read that when Moses' hands were "steady", Israel’s army won. Interestingly, the Hebrew word translated "steady" in this text is emunah!
The implication is that faith, rather than being understood as a one-time mental decision, should be understood as a steady pursuit of God, or faithfulness! This communicates a different idea, doesn't it? Instead of simply a one-time belief, faith involves continual action. Faith, then, is something you "have", and faith-ful-ness is something you do on a continual basis.
Tzedekah is another Hebrew word that means right thought and action at the right time and place. It is concerned with living righteously and implies that in each moment and in each choice, right living and choosing are taking place. It also deals with what we, in English, call “charity”, applying to giving aid (whether physical, emotional, political or monetary) to the needy.
However, if we stopped there, we would have the wrong idea of what Tzedekah entails because “charity” suggests the magnanimous acts of the wealthy and powerful for the benefit of the poor and lowly. But that is not the proper understanding of Tzedekah, because it derives from the Hebrew root tzade-dalet-qof meaning righteousness, justice or fairness.
So the righteous man steadily, faithfully, unswervingly and untiringly seeks the restoration of righteousness, justice or fairness. Paul encouraged this understanding of faith in the great book on Christian liberty when he said, “Don't be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don't give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.”
Put your faith in God, not just once but every second of every day.
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