Righteous

Ever had one of those “AHA!” moments? When you see or hear something you’ve been taught your whole life differently, and all of a sudden it makes perfect sense? Where it goes from being theoretical knowledge to a practical applicable truth? I had one this week.

I’ve been reading through the Psalms lately. I like the Psalms because it seems that no matter what is happening in my life, whether it is good or bad, there’s a Psalm that corresponds to it. 

So far, this winter has SUCKED. It’s been too cold to really do anything outside, and being stuck inside with an active, curious, mischief-inclined 20 month old who has suddenly rediscovered his lungs and thinks that it’s cool to deafen people without warning would test even a saint’s patience - and I’m not a saint. Add to that a stomach bug and then a cold and it’s been a perfect recipe for winter blues. 

So it’s been comforting to read things like “I lie down and sleep; I wake up again, because the Lord sustains me: (3:5), “...the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place” (18:18, 19), “It is God who arms me with strength” (18:32) “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (27:14) “But I trust in You, O Lord; I say You are my God. My times are in Your hands” (31:14, 15) “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (34:4).

But then I would cross verses like “The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness” (18:20) “The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness” (18:24), “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.” (34:15) and think, Well, I’m not a horrible person. But righteous?

That word “righteous”. I didn’t like it. The definition of righteous is “acting in accord with divine or moral law; free from guilt or sin”. I try. I do my best to treat others the way God asks me, but I’m not kidding myself. I’m far from perfect. So I would never classify myself as righteous.

I noticed that I would approach God kind of like a puppy that’s chewed up his master’s shoes. You know, sort of sidling up to, without making eye contact, tail between my legs, head down. I know he loves me, but I know that I disappoint him on a regular basis. Am I a good person? Sure. Am I perfect? Nope. Righteous? Not even close.

But then as I looked at the Psalms again, it occurred to me: David is saying that he’s righteous. David!! The guy who slept with an other guys’ wife. The guy who got her pregnant, and then in order to cover up what he’d done, had her husband murdered.  That guy!! And he’s claiming to be righteous? Am I missing something?

Jesus.

It’s got nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him. The second I chose to accept Jesus’ death as payment for my sins, before God, I was not only forgiven, I became righteous. The moment I came to God and said “I’m not perfect. I’ve made bad choices. I’ve lied, I’ve treated people poorly, I’ve said things in anger that are unkind. I’ve failed You, and since heaven is perfect and can’t allow anything short of perfection into it, I’m disqualified from entrance. But Jesus took care of it for me. He took the blame and because of that, not only am I forgiven and welcomed into heaven, I can approach God covered by Jesus’ righteousness.

And suddenly, those verses that I was skipping over become promises that I can claim as my own. Not because of anything I can do, but because Jesus did everything.


“I no longer have a righteousness of my own, the kind that is gained by obeying the Law. I now have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith.” Phil 3:9
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