Families often have common characteristics: they may look the same physically, have similar habits and mannerisms and may use similar words. That is because they share similar genes and have had a shared experience in their upbringing. We call such things their 'family likeness'. The same is true with God's children: they are children of the righteous God (Psalm 7:11) and should be righteous.
'Righteousness' is not a common social word today, but it is used as a legal word in the New Testament to mean that there is nothing for a judge to criticise; the accused is declared 'not guilty'. Jesus is the righteous One (Acts 3:14) and those who put their trust in Him are made righteous; they are declared to be children of God (John 1:12) and therefore 'brothers' of Jesus (Hebrews 2:11). They should exhibit the family characteristics.
So when you see a person who claims to be a believer behaving in a righteous way you are right to say, "He got that from His Father and Brother". The more secure we are in our new birth (1 Peter 1:3), and the more time we spend listening to our Heavenly Father and following our big Brother, the more we will demonstrate the righteous nature of God.
Practically, righteous living is the external evidence of inner holiness. It is not that we do right things in order that God shall dismiss the guilt of our unrighteousness, but that the more we have a desire to please Him we will want to do what is righteous. So the daily challenge is not so much to check that everything we do is acceptable to Him (although that is wise), but to ensure that our desire is to please Him rather than pleasing ourselves. Let the divine family likeness express itself through your life today.
© Dr Paul Adams