As we begin another Lenten season, I thought a good place to focus might be our need for righteousness. It strikes me in the Gospels that Jesus is all about bringing us righteousness. We are too worldly focused to think we have much of a need for righteousness. Most of us think we need healing or exciting miracles. We might try to get a little righteousness by going to church on Sunday and giving some spare change to a beggar.
God sees the bigger picture and knows that there is nothing which we are more bankrupt than righteousness. He sees that we are totally incapable of getting the righteousness we need through our own actions, so He sent Jesus to give us His righteousness through His sacrificial work on the cross.
Lent is a season of repentance and preparation for the Easter celebration. No matter how sacrificial your Lenten fast, it could never be enough to earn your righteousness. I have been practicing Lent for 15 years, and every year at the end of my fast I come face to face with how far I am from righteousness. I will spend this year focusing on how amazing God’s gift of righteousness is to me. My Lenten fast is to catch every sunrise and sunset that I am able to see.
Some of the first recorded words of Jesus in the gospels are spoken to John the Baptist after he questioned baptizing Jesus. Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. (Matthew 3:15) There is no question that Jesus’ purpose on earth was to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus came to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
As we begin the Lenten season, it is a good time to focus our hearts on the righteousness we need. Understand that if you take up a Lenten fast, the purpose is not to make you feel more righteous than others who do not observe the season. The purpose is to bring to your awareness your great need for righteousness.
Ash Wednesday’s service reminds us that from dust we came and to dust we will return. We cannot attain immortality on our own. We cannot attain righteousness on our own. We are covered only through Jesus’ righteousness. He gives it to us—the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14) and robes of righteousness (Rev 7:14; 22:14).
The 2011 Lenten season begins on March 9 with Ash Wednesday. There are 40 days (minus Sundays) to focus on why Jesus needed to come to earth, die, and rise again to bring us righteousness. I plan to write the weekly devotions about the wonder of the righteousness we need and our common failure to recognize righteousness as essential for our souls. Spend this first part of Lent opening our heart, mind and spirit to why God sees righteousness as so essential.