It seems as if we should all be able to define righteousness. Isn’t it a word whose meaning we all know? I think it is vital not to confuse self-righteousness (something we have too much of) with righteousness (something we desperately need but can’t get for ourselves).
Webster’s defines it: “acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin: morally right or justifiable. I would define righteousness as: something completely otherworldly, something that Adam and Eve had before sin, something only Jesus had after that sin and that He freely gives to us by faith. Righteousness is ultimately right standing before God. ”
Righteousness is definitely something I cannot get for myself. Titus 3: 4-5 explains:
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
I cannot be righteous enough for God through my own actions and goodness. The problem is that my righteousness has been taken from me through sin. I need it back desperately. That is why God sent Jesus. He sent Jesus to be the righteousness that I need to be in relationship with Him.
The foundational aspect of understanding righteousness is realizing that it is not something that any human being is capable of creating or getting for themselves. Righteousness is a gift from God. Because of our utter hopelessness to create righteousness, God sent Jesus to this earth. As we meditate on the cross this Lenten Season, we consider how pointless our existence on the earth would be without Christ’s work of the cross and how His sacrifice on the cross has produced the righteousness we need. Paul talked about this in Romans 5:6-8, 17:
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Righteousness is the greatest gift you have ever received. It is a gift that once opened changes your eternal destiny. It is a gift that you will never fully comprehend on this earth. It is a gift that was given freely but at great sacrifice. Open the gift of righteousness and discover how much meaning it brings to your Lenten Season.