I am made righteous

Extraordinary Gift

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. ~Titus 3:5-7, KJV

I worked at a bicycle shop during my college years. It was a pretty good gig; fun people, upbeat environment, good pay, and I got to learn and participate in a pretty exhilarating sport. But it was a summer gig. I worked from early May to mid August every year, and then packed up my little Honda hatchback and headed six hours north to go back to school. Nothing really that permanent bound me to that shop, nor it to me.

I came home the Christmas of my sophomore year to an envelope with the Cyclery’s emblem on the front left hand corner. Curious, I thought, because they weren’t expecting me until May—I didn’t work over the three week holiday in the winter (which I should have. But I didn’t.) A little nervous, because I depended on that summer set-up, and so did my college education, I tore open the envelope.

It was a check. For a little more than two-hundred dollars. Maybe not that much to a full-grown, full-time worker, but to a nineteen year old college kid paying her way through school? Wow. Two-hundred bucks that I hadn’t banked on.

The shop, it seemed had done particularly well that year, and to celebrate, they gave every employee a generous Christmas bonus. Every. One. Even the slacker, part-time college kid who really didn’t deserve it. It was an extraordinary gift from a generous employer.

That’s the thing about grace. It’s given freely, generously, and is always unmerited. This righteousness that I’ve been awarded? It’s not really of me; I didn’t earn it any more than I really earned that Christmas bonus. I stand alone in grace because of His extraordinary gift.

I am made righteous

By Faith ….

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17 ESV

I’m late getting my blog post up today. I’ve failed to keep my overly full schedule in line – again.  But my repetitive failure to be perfect is so beautifully addressed in today’s verse.

The righteous shall live by faith.

The righteous shall not live by faultlessly executed schedules. They shall not live by writing and leading mesmerizing Bible studies.  They shall not live by heading up the women’s ministry at church, teaching Sunday School, and singing lovely solos on the platform.

Nor shall they live by mothering without annoyance, raising perfect, Bible-reading, respectful children. They shall not live by tirelessly supporting, respecting and never fighting with their husbands.

And the righteous shall not live by achieving the highest awards in their workplaces. They shall not live by becoming perfect bosses and stellar employees.  They shall not live by winning the big contracts and wowing their clients.

The righteous shall not live perfectly inside their own heads, either. They shall not live by ridding themselves of every catty thought and every angry reaction.

No. The righteous shall live by faith.  Faith in the one who keeps His schedule perfectly and inspired the Bible, who created the women in the Women’s Ministry at our churches.  They shall live by faith in the One about whom solos are sung.

The righteous shall live by faith in the only Child who was ever perfect, the holy Husband of the Church.

And they shall live by faith in the One who instead of being awarded for His work, was mocked and crucified for it. Their faith is in the One who did not stay dead, but rose again, accomplishing the greatest Work in the universe.

The righteous shall live by faith in Him who thinks perfect thoughts. Every moment. Of every day. For eternity.

Praise God, in Whom my faith rests. Praise Him who gave His own righteousness to those of who were not.

I am made righteous

Because He Said So

Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declared righteous the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness. Romans 4:4-5

I go to work. I get paid. There’s a fair exchange there – my labor for cash.

I believe on Jesus. I’m declared righteous.  This time, the exchange is not so fair, but it’s an exchange none the less – my faith for His righteousness.

Not my work for His righteousness.  No.  My good deeds could not purchase His righteousness any more than my teacher assistant salary could purchase the Mona Lisa.  No matter how hard I try, how many hungry people I feed, how many Bible studies I lead, or how many lost people I witness to, I can never earn righteousness. I will always fall short.  When I’m feeding the hungry people, I might feel a twinge of resentment.  When I’m leading the Bible study, I may think an unkind thought in the middle of it.  When I’m witnessing to the lost person, I may be prideful.  No matter how good I am, there’s always a little bad mixed in there with it.  And just a little sin is enough sin to keep me soundly labeled “unrighteous.”

But I love today’s verse, because if I believe on Him, then he takes my belief and says, “Ok then. I’ll just call you righteous.”  Despite the fact that I don’t deserve it.

I’m not righteous. But He says I am.

And that makes it so.

Praise God for a gift beyond compare.

 

 

I am made righteous

I Have Been Made Righteous: A Joint Post

He presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:26 HCSB

From Susan:

Decisions are horribly hard for me. The bigger and more life-impacting they are, the more I wrangle with myself about them.  I weigh both options endlessly, exhausting myself.  Why?  Because I want to do the right thing.  When the right decision is obvious, I don’t struggle. But so many times, it’s not obvious.  Should I seek a job?  Or not?  Should I pursue this job … or that one?  Get involved in that ministry, or focus on the other one? Move here or there?  What is right?

I faced such a decision last week. And as I sat in my brown leather arm chair, worrying if I was doing the right thing, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart: You are already righteous.  I made you righteous.

It stunned me a little. Here I was, weighing several options about how to move forward, tying myself in knots over them, letting guilt jerk the knot tighter, trying to figure out what was right – and the answer was before me the whole time.  I could not find righteousness in a particular course of action or in the “right” decision, because I myself could never be “right” on my own.  Ever.

Even though I was/am decidedly a mess, Jesus declared me righteous. He gave me His righteousness the moment I chose to believe he’d died for me and rose again.  He gave righteousness to me, because I could never achieve it on my own.

And in that moment, sitting my armchair, it was such a relief. It freed me to make a decision without guilt.

How does Jesus’ declaration that you are righteous free you?

From Jen:

I’m a perfectionist on a lot of things. I hate it when I’m wrong. I hate it when I fail to do something correctly. I hate it when my house isn’t clean. Some call me type A. I’m not—not really. I’m type Pharisee. I like to know the rules so that I can present myself as a good girl. For people like me, failure in one aspect of life is failure in all aspects of life, and that is devastating.

I think, at the heart of this, is pride. But also there is a deep desire to be acceptable.

We recently walked through Jesus’s illustrations of new patches on old garments and old wineskins filled with new wine. To be honest, going into it, I didn’t really get His parable. I thought, Jesus, you’re going to have to explain this one to me if you want me to teach it to the kids, ‘cause I’m out wandering in the pasture on this one. You know what? He did. Isn’t that like Him?

Pharisee types like to patch up their own holes, even if it means ignoring the fact that a brand-spankin’ new patch won’t fix and old, torn garment. They like to use what they got and fill it to the brim to make it look like it’s the real thing, even if it means ruining the good stuff to keep up appearances. Pharisees use the patch-up method of good works to gain approval.

But patched-up messes aren’t the same thing as righteous people.

Declared righteous means I don’t have to do the mending anymore. Good thing too, because I can’t patch up my old, broken heart. Underneath all the outward goodness, there’s still a broken heart inside. But God, in His tender mercy, has generously given me something so much better. He has given me a new heart and has declared me righteous because of His son.

So now, instead of being held captive by my Pharisee tendencies, I am free. Because I am declared righteous, I am accepted and approved. My heart beats whole and I am free to offer Him the works of love and sacrifice of praise that I couldn’t give before.