Post #5 in A Tale of Two Covenants
Yours, Mine & Ours. Have you watched the movie?
Just in case you haven’t, the story is this- A man and a woman fall in love (no surprise there!). They used to be old sweethearts and then met again at their high school reunion, realized they were still in love with each other, and got married…without telling their children.
Problem is, they both have a lot of children- eight from the man’s previous marriage. The woman, also a widow, has ten children- four are biologically hers, six are adopted.
Now, apart from the undeniable love they have for each other, this man and woman are polar opposites.
He is a Coast Guard Admiral and runs his home in shipshape fashion, strict rules and nothing out of order.
She is a creative free spirit, her children brimming with self-expression and individuality. For her, a mess is not a mess, it’s just organized chaos.
But the whole drama unravels and spills when the truth hits them- how on earth are they going to blend their two vastly different families into one big happy family? Will it be his rules, her rules, or new rules? Or will it fall apart?
Yours, mine, ours? That was the big question for them.
And it’s the big question for us, too. When it comes to righteousness, that is. Because it seems to be something Christians are still trying to figure out. Whose righteousness do we live by? Is it yours, mine, or…?
Your Righteousness Probably Looks Like This…
Now, you’ve probably been here before (…or you have a perfect life I want!)
In the morning, you begin fresh and determined. You want to live the Best You, to the glory of God… in Jesus’ name. You’re determined not to lose your temper today. Whether it’s on the road…oh no… that bus didn’t just cut in front of your lane. You take in deep breaths. So far, so good. And this morning, even when the news made you think angry thoughts, you remembered to pray about them instead of ranting and giving a piece of your mind to all the incompetent politicians who run the country. So by the time you get to work, you are really calm.
And then it starts. Even before you get to your emails, there is trouble brewing. A clueless boss, an upset client, a handful of mistakes by customer service. The whole thing reeks “Emergency!” and you are drawn right into it. You tell yourself not to get mad, say a quick prayer and dive in. Everyone is incompetent…or so it seems.
But today, you want to give them the benefit of the doubt. You decide to be generous in your thoughts, make reasonable excuses for their failings. Maybe the boss is having a stressful situation at home. Maybe a wayward child. Or school fees to pay- even though no one asked them to send their kids to a school which has “International” in the middle of its name.
And the customer service department. Who can blame them when they were hired because they knew someone who knew someone? Not because they actually got trained to do the job. So that was to be expected.
With these thoughts in your head, you’re almost in a good mood. You doggedly move from one meeting to another, taking calls after calls. Checking, cross-checking, and thankfully, by the end of the day, all is well. Sanity is restored. You insist that it was teamwork. Everyone congratulates everyone else and even though it took all you had, you mentally congratulate yourself on one more thing- for keeping it all together. You don’t know if you can do it again, but it feels good to have succeeded today and stayed cool.
You actually did it! No temper lost today! What a great testimony, right?
Well done! High five!
After watching the blockbuster movie which was your day, we’re all getting up to give you a standing ovation when someone asks- Based on whose standards?
What? What sort of question is that? Isn’t it obvious? This is you on the right path! Shining example of a Christian in the world!
But this unwelcome interruption says we shouldn’t pull answers from the air. To pause for a while. Because when you take a closer look, you realize that we’re all like something unclean, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
Filthy rags? Yikes.
Not even your unrighteousnesses, but righteousnesses. Everything good you did today? Filthy rags.
Mine is the same. Filthy rags. That’s how our righteousness looks like.
So what’s next? Where do we go from here? If we can’t depend on yours or mine, what’s left?
Swapping Yours and Mine for His Righteousness
Again, you’ve probably heard this before, or have subconsciously believed it one time- that you’re saved by grace and then you’ve got to live in obedience. Sounds all right until you ask- obedience to what?
Here’s what the most popular verse on righteousness says: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
And then there’s this less popular (but equally important) verse: …those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)
First, Matthew says it plainly- it’s His righteousness. Phew. Not yours, not mine, but His.
Second, Paul in Romans says, righteousness is a gift. Second phew. Because a gift is given. It’s free…or else it’s not a gift. It’s not what you do to get the gift because a gift is not earned. And you can’t start working to pay back the gift…who does that?… or then it becomes a payment or a salary. But since it’s a gift, then it wasn’t yours to begin with. It only becomes yours because you received it. And you can never earn it. You just take it.
That’s His righteousness. A gift to be taken and enjoyed, in your bad days or good days, when you do good or when you can’t help and do bad. It never changes. It has no mood swings. It is constant. And because it is by faith, all you need to do is to say, “Yes! I am the righteousness of God in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
That’s the basis.
Not even how good you are.
And if you are concerned about your bad behavior, the best thing to do to overcome it is to turn away from it (your self-righteousness) and turn to Him (His righteousness). It’s His righteousness that changes you and me. Every single day. Nothing more, nothing less.
So will it be yours, mine or His?
Ah, yes. The family of eighteen children? After the kids realized that trying to split up their parents and going back to the old “happy” ways was proving equally disastrous, the only way they solved their differences was to look beyond themselves. Not to the old ways of doing things. Not to what both families were used to. But to something bigger than what each family was used to.
And they lived happily ever after.
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Stay high on grace my friend.