The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. (Isaiah 32:17—NKJV)

We are in a sorry state of affairs, both as a nation and as individuals, when we are more likely to think of righteousness and its required high moral standards as a liability rather than a benefit. We tend to think that rigid, simple adherence to divinely inspired righteous behavior is so out of step with the hard complications of life that it is impractical, and that temporal, easy, and shallow relationships give a greater return and promote peace in the short run.

As we Christians grow more biblically illiterate, we are increasingly more ignorant of the practical and eternal benefits of applying righteous standards to all of our views, without exception. Desiring, defending, and displaying righteousness always requires more character, more thoughtfulness, and more personal commitment than any poor substitute that we like to engineer for the sake of ease or expediency. Applied righteousness is more difficult, but the real benefits make it indispensable.

Choosing to accept a salary package in exchange for the work you will render your employer is a fitting analogy. Great consideration is given for the benefits which come along with the paycheck. At the beginning of your employment the benefit package is seen as a great asset and very often is a great deal of the attractiveness of the salary. However, you work for a few years while time wears on and all you are holding in your hands is the weekly net pay. You find it is easy to allow your enthusiasm to erode and your thankfulness to diminish. You tend to forget the great value found in the safety, security, provision, and the peace of mind which those costly benefits make available to you.

But, if you ascribe a fresh monetary value to the benefits and you begin to identify what those benefits do for you in case of emergency, retirement, death, or disability, you begin to appreciate their value and you are refreshed in your willingness to give your heart to your work. You find ease and expedience are not the highest values, but faithfulness to your employer is.

The context of our verse comes from a prophetic chapter written by Isaiah concerning the coming reign of Jesus Christ during His very real, kingly rule in Israel called the Millennium of Peace. Isaiah states that it will be a reign that is righteous, just, protective, knowledgeable and characterized by intelligence (verses 1–4). Conversely, a wicked society tends to reward wicked people; fools and scoundrels seem to multiply when righteousness is forgotten (verses 5–8). Complacency in the face of wickedness always steals peace from those who most benefit from peace (verses 9–14). It is for the believers to be first in repentance (verses 11, 15) and place absolute and unreserved confidence in God. They must demonstrate conscious, humble obedience in submission to His righteousness (verse 16).

Verse 17 reminds you of the hidden and hard-to-value benefits of righteousness. Despite the storm of conflict that faithfulness to God’s righteousness often precipitates, the end product, the work, the result will most certainly be peace and security. There is no real, lasting peace found in the ways of ease and expediency; peace is impossible when righteousness does not prevail. This is true in the realm of salvation (Romans 5:1–11), and indisputably true in all human endeavor, both for nations and for individuals.

Do you really know true joy, quiet security, and lasting peace within your soul through submission in faith to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Can you identify those areas of failure in your life where you have been avoiding standing on the righteousness of God for the sake of ease and expediency? Confess and submit. Trust and obey.