Can we ever truly be righteous?
Righteousness has always felt obscure (uncertain) for me. The word just felt too big for me to truly grasp being possible in “real life.” I always felt deep down that righteousness wasn’t really attainable. I felt like it was something to always work toward but it was like the carrot at the end of a stick at a rabbit race - always chasing. It was a word I felt I could never measure up to. Men in the Bible like Job are considered righteous. He lost his money, family, friends, health and so much more and stayed faithful to the Lord. I’ve gone my own way (away from God) for far less in the past. So I didn’t dare compare myself to the righteousness of Job.
However, everything changed in regards to righteousness for me a couple of weeks ago when I was speaking to a godly person I trust. In our conversation he mentioned righteousness. Our conversation was about something completely different but he briefly mentioned that righteousness was “doing the right thing, the right way with the right motivation.” Well, needless to say, our conversation was diverted and lingered in that for a while. Through him, the Holy Spirit helped me lasso the idea of righteousness into something actually attainable now. It didn’t have to be as dramatic as Job. I keep learning that God does not want to make our serving Him a series of frustrating, unattainable goals and situations. He also doesn’t expect perfection (even when we do from ourselves). God wants us to base our lives around His beautiful love and there He will meet us and help us grow accordingly.
This new understanding of righteousness has transformed the way I look at even the most mundane life situations, conversations and actions I take. I have found working it in a different order works best for me. In just a matter of mere moments, I consider the following...
First, What is my motivation (or motives) behind my next step or next thing I allow to come out of my mouth? Is it something that benefits God and others before myself? As my friend Linda always says to her own children: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Then I consider, if Jesus was standing right beside me, how would my actions or words be any different?
Next, I consider if what I am doing or saying is the right thing. If the answer is no, I immediately stop and consider alternative action, conversation or maybe stopping altogether for a bit and just resting in silence then praying for the Holy Spirit to direct my next steps. If the answer is yes, I move to the last self check: Am I handling this the right way?
In years passed, I had a bad habit of speaking first and thinking after. In fact, I used to call it being “witty” and wore that like a badge of honor. Additionally in years passed, I often acted or reacted to situations with my first instinct and thought about the long term repercussions later and I called that “courage or bravery.” Experience with age has curbed a lot of that for sure over the years, but this exercise has offered an additional, intentional pause and I can already see how it is working to align me with God’s will and plan in even the smallest of matters.
The Bible speaks a lot about righteousness. In fact, Romans 6:13 says, “...offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” When you consider an instrument, what comes to mind is something you physically play. In this same light, I believe that being an instrument of righteousness involves our active participation and practice in the beautiful art of doing what is right, the right way, with the right motivation. We will not always get it right but can we ever be righteous? The answer is YES WE CAN!
Prayer prompt: Father God, thank you for this beautiful perspective on righteousness. I ask that you bless me with the Holy Spirit in every action I take and every word I speak. Help me to pause and consider if I am aligning my ways with your ways. I ask that you convict my heart when my motives are wrong, and correct me. When I do things your way, I know the enemy will be there to attempt to trip me up or set traps to make me falter. Father, send your angel armies to form a hedge of protection around me while I intentionally incorporate better habits in my life. Let my righteousness bless others to come to you and be saved. I look to you Abba in all things. YOUR will be done! You know me better than I know myself, so I trust my life to you. I surrender… to you. I rest… in you. I repent of my sins and thank you for the sacrifice of your beautiful son, Jesus Christ. I declare my intention to pursue righteousness and with your help Father, I am convinced that it is achievable. Thank you. I am excited to see how you will continue to move in my life. In Jesus name, Amen.