A righteous conversation about righteousness1
"not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith."
- from Philippians 3:9
For Paul, "righteousness" had to do with rightness, with right relationships, with everything in the right place. "Righteousness" is something you'd want for yourself and others.
And, in today's passage, he contrasts two different types of righteousness: his own and that which comes from God ... God's righteousness.
On the one hand, you have righteousness that you can earn and claim as your own. You obey the rules and make good decisions and work diligently. And you expect, from all this effort, to experience right relationships and a well-ordered life. And, since you earned it, all that rightness belongs to you.
This raises the question: why would anyone want someone else's righteousness?
First, earned righteousness is just another word for self-righteousness. And you've known self-righteous people. They're obnoxious. And you've probably been self-righteously obnoxious yourself once or twice. Self-righteousness does not make our souls deep, wise, courageous or beautiful.
On the other hand, there is a righteousness that belongs to someone else and is shared with you. Jesus was the perfectly right one. Every single moment of every day he was in step with the Spirit, beating back temptation, and following the Father. Perfectly.
Jesus was the one person in all of history who was perfectly self-righteous and it was a blessing and not a curse. And, wonderfully, on the other side of the cross and resurrection, he shares this rightness with you. If you have faith in him and are found in him, what's his is yours ... all of it.
Why do we sometimes prefer self-righteousness over the righteousness Jesus offers us?
What would it look like today to rest in Jesus' righteousness in reckless ways? What difference do you think that would make in how you lived your life today?
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