He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor. (Proverbs 21:21—NIV)

When you consider all the pursuits common to mankind, hindsight usually proves that it was a striving after futility and being at the top of your game is often short lived. Pursuits usually include wealth, success in business, being a star athlete, famous notoriety, providing every option known to man for our children, a nice house and so forth. Successful pursuit that reaches its goal often comes with significant sacrifice of some other important values. Individuals may lose their family, their reputation, friends, happiness and sense of fulfillment as they follow their pursuit.

Our passage points out a different course and offers to multiply the benefits of the pursuit. It encourages a pursuit after virtues rather than a pursuit after things. Going on the singular hunt for high ideals pays increasingly valuable rewards with every day spent in continuing the pursuit.

First, the pursuer of righteousness and mercy must start with God. He is the Definer of those two virtues. He is Righteous. He unchangingly adjudicates justice with infinite consistency and without favoritism. He does all things well, requires righteousness of all sentient beings, and will exact a price for unrighteousness.

His mercy also must catch our attention since God is infinitely merciful. He established the plan of salvation by which He can declare believers justified with a positive state of righteousness. Mercy corresponds to misery. The misery of being under the just wrath of God is dealt with at the cross of Christ. In Christ we have the meeting of righteousness and mercy. The pursuer must have unrestricted faith in Christ’s sufficiency alone in order to start on the trail of righteousness and mercy.

Secondly, the pursuit of these virtues is an overriding drive every day of the sanctified life. Pursue the humbling knowledge of what it is to be a recipient of the benefits of the righteousness and mercy of God. The one equipped with a fresh sense of thanksgiving will rightly pursue these virtues in his dealings with all men. These virtues are not mutually exclusive for the saint. They temper one another and prevent the excess of overemphasizing one above the other. They maintain the balance so necessary to be a living illustration of the Living God, so necessary to a spiritually dark world.

Such a lifelong pursuit yields life, righteousness and honor, both here in your sojourn on earth and later in the eternal state. When did you last evaluate your dreamy pursuits? How successful are you in the sight of your Maker?