Righteousness & Competence

In the United States we’ve had some seemingly good Christian men who were not good Presidents, and we’ve had some seemingly bad men who were very good Presidents. Having just finished reading several books on the Byzantine Empire I think it would be easy to prove the same point there, as it would be in the market place, the arts, athletics and just about any other field.

Some of you reading this post may be thinking, “Yeah, so what? What does one have to do with the other?” Others of you understand why this perplexes me as a Christian.

If righteousness is the act of being and acting rightly, i.e in accordance with Truth, then it seems that should translate into success or excellence for Christians in their earthly endeavors. The reality is that a different common denominator is found in those who tend to succeed in earthly endeavors–competence. It seems that competence trumps righteousness.

In fact, I think one can confidently say that all other things being equal, competence is probably the best indicator of whether one will be successful in life.  And yet competence is not righteousness.  Or is it?

We think of righteousness as being limited to morality, i.e. acting right morally. But why should it be so limited? Why shouldn’t righteousness extend to areas of our lives other than ethics? To put it another way, maybe everything is moral. And if everything is moral, then competence is righteousness.

I don’t mean to suggest being excellent at what you do is your pass to heaven. I do mean to suggest that competence is part of righteousness in the same way that temperance, discretion, kindness and selflessness are constituent elements of righteousness.

In the Parable of Talents, Jesus commended the competence of those servants who took their master’s money and turned it into more money.  He did more than commend, He called the servant who failed with his masters money–who was incompetent–“wicked.” (Matthew 25:14-30).  If I am correct, it shouldn’t surprise us then that Jesus’ followers said of Him, “Behold, He does all things well.” (Mark 7:37).

I don’t know, it’s just a thought, but it makes sense to me. GS

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