And by doing just that I found a new, obvious definition. Read Ezekiel with me.
If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul, Ezek 3:18-21.
Did you catch it? God tells Ezekiel exactly what a righteous man is—someone who warns (and delivers his soul) or someone who listens to the warning and repents. But what about the “righteous man” who commits injustice, you ask? He has “turned from his righteousness” and “none of his righteous deeds are remembered,” which means he is no longer righteous. The only two righteous people in that whole paragraph are the one who warns and the one who repents.
Notice, God says nothing about the way he is warned. If you have not read the book of Ezekiel you need to. Ezekiel preached hard sermons. He preached plain sermons. Yet God still demanded that those people repent. Getting their feelings hurt did not make them “righteous.” Getting angry about the way they were spoken to did not make them “righteous.” The only thing that made them “righteous” was heeding the warning and repenting.
Think about that Syrophenician mother who came asking Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter. At first Jesus ignored her. Then he insulted her. If she had left with her feelings hurt, her daughter would never have been healed. She understood that something was more important than her feelings. And Jesus called that attitude “faith.” Ah! Another Bible definition.
When I hear the warning, if I want to be counted righteous, I must stop blaming others and recognize my responsibility to listen and act. The failures of others will not save me.
Take heed how you hear…Luke 18:8.