But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:21-24 (NIV)
Righteousness is an amazing thing; we all need, none of us have it and there is only one place to get it. Talk about evening the playing field. Righteousness requires us all to become spiritual paupers. This makes Jesus’ statements in Matthew 5 come into clearer focus. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) and, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
There is no difference between me or the murderer in jail, until either of us admit our spiritual poverty and hunger for something better than all other things. God has made His righteousness known and available, but we can get too involved in concocting our own righteousness instead. We can look at the murderer and say, “At least I am not a murderer” all the while hating the murderer in our heart. This isn’t righteousness, it is spiritual hypocrisy rooted in arrogance.
Righteousness asks us all to start at the same place, to count everything we have done on our own as rubbish. We empty our pockets, we deny our credentials, we surrender our pedigree and we come before God naked and poor. We need Him to clothe us. We need Him to bless us with the riches of His kingdom. We need His righteousness.
This life is too short to spend time trying to be right; too precious to spend our talents and treasures just to prove someone else wrong. Make your argument with your life. Hunger and thirst for righteousness and you will make the best argument possible; that God’s righteousness is better than man’s. I certainly don’t say this from a place of success. Every day is a struggle to seek God’s righteousness instead of creating my own, but I believe I am closer than I was last week, last month, last year. I still hunger. I still thirst.
Righteousness is an amazing thing, but it is not impossible. My hope is rooted in the victories in my own life and the cloud of witnesses who testify to this truth. The righteousness of God is our inheritance, but we must let go of the petty riches we cling to in this world. We have to let go of our reputations, our degrees, our experiences and grab a hold of the hem of His garment. Lord, let us hunger and thirst for You more every day.