So Help Me God

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “[1]

Righteousness is an interesting word. It is thrown around by we who speak English. Without reaching for the desk dictionary we all have a basic understanding of righteousness. To most of us it means “adherence or conformity to an established norm,” or simply put, doing the right thing. [2]  Essentially, we become righteous when we act in a “right” way. But the Bibles understanding of “righteousness” is well beyond our English understanding of “righteousness.” Scriptures understanding of human righteousness is of “absolute faith in and commitment to God.” In Scripture it is not enough to do the right thing; we are called to a right faith, an absolute faith and commitment to God.

During Monday’s 57th Presidential Inauguration, the second inauguration of U.S. President Barak Obama, we heard the words of Rev. Luis Leon. Rev. Leon gave the inaugural benediction.[3]  Rev. Leon is an Episcopal priest at St. John’s Church, the church across the street from The White House. In Rev. Leon’s benediction the word “righteousness” appeared twice in the benediction, in adjacent sentences. “Fill them (Barack our president and Joe our vice president) with a love of truth and righteousness.” Then Rev. Leon said, “Endow their hearts with wisdom and forbearance, so that peace may prevail with righteousness.”[4] Rev. Leon’s use of “righteousness” made me wonder as to his intended meaning. Could it have been the scriptural understanding?

Righteousness is to be in right relationship with God. Accordingly, if we give ourselves in faith to the doing of God’s will, then God will reckon us righteous.[5] For further understanding, I turn to Jesus’ Beatitudes. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Jesus’ words seem to highlight that we cannot do this by our own will, but still encouraged us to make righteousness an objective of this life. God will help and satisfy the faithful.

I cannot be sure of the meaning in Rev. Leon’s intentional use of “righteousness.” Nevertheless, I can make a Scriptural connection: it is my hope that both the president and the vice president do hunger and thirst for their own right relationship with God. They’ve probably learned by now they can’t do it by their own will. I know that if I held the most powerful, and toughest elected office in the world, I too would have ended my inaugural oath with, “So help me God.”[6] Amen!



[1] Matthew 5:6 (ESV)

[2] Butler, Trent C, Ph.D., general editor, Holman Bible Dictionary, Holman Bible Publishers, © copyright 1991

[3] http://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2013/01/the-benediction-for-the-inauguration/

[4] http://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2013/01/the-benediction-for-the-inauguration/

[5] With consideration of James 2:23 (ESV)

[6] http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/20/politics/obama-inauguration-bible/

About Pastor Steve

Pastor Steve Hodges is an ordained minister, pastoring a church in central Virginia.
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