Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. (Luke 2:25)
In this Nativity passage, Simeon is eagerly anticipating the birth of Jesus. As I read this passage, a question came to mind: what did it mean that Simeon was called righteous and devout?
For a long time, I think, I viewed that description, at best, as meaning someone who exists on a heavenly plane and is just so far above lots of the stuff that bugs us.
And at worst, it would be someone just like the Church Lady on Saturday Night Live pictured above. Someone who is just a little bit holier than everyone and quite the judge of everybody and who is just so special!
But let’s take a fresh look at what being righteous and devout might mean:
- Someone who is genuinely humble and instead of being self-righteous, is quick to confess their sin.
- Someone who, instead of being holier than everyone, laughs a lot, enjoys life to the fullest, and does not take themselves too seriously.
- Someone who is heading to Christian maturity, is Spirit-filled and has the fruits of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
In Luke, Simeon was looking forward to the consolation of Israel (Jesus) — and don’t we look forward to when Jesus returns and sets up his kingdom? Didn’t that hope affect Simeon’s whole life? Shouldn’t it affect ours?
Simeon had a dose of the Holy Spirit that was very rare in the Old Testament. But Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to dwell in us every day. Now we get a daily taste of what righteous and devout really means…and that joyful life is nothing like being the Church Lady!