Have you ever felt a need to prove your righteousness to people? Me too!
“Whoever Brings Blessing Will be Enriched” Proverbs 11:25
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Chasing worldly righteousness leads to painful arrogance.
EARTHLY RIGHTEOUSNESS LEADS TO ARROGANCE
I remember the day of March 7th, 2017.
A breathtaking skyline view from a large, modern conference room of my divorce attorney’s office.
Michel’s attorney set a divorce mediation for us for that day and place.
Our premarital counseling mentors came there to support me and pray for strength to endure all the humiliation and pain.
I remember how everything felt so surreal.
Just 10 months prior to that day, Michel and I were getting ready for our wedding.
And then… the IronMan.
Instead of a honeymoon, Michel took me to a trimoon – a triathlon in Chattanooga, TN, the week after our wedding.
Then, instead of spending weekends and evenings together as newlyweds, I was alone in the country house away from everything I knew while Michel was doing his IronMan training 60 hours a week.
Fast-forward 10 months, here we were… getting divorced.
It was not my reality – just a drama I was watching on Netflix. Nothing like what could happen to me in my real life.
Wake up call!
It was my actual divorce mediation with my actual husband who begged me to marry him just a year ago.
It was my actual life.
I was in pain. I was in disbelief. I was in shock.
After three hours of painful back and forth, Michel was to pay me $5000 to move out of our marital residence, which we remodeled just a year ago together.
At that time, Michel stopped talking to me. Living in the same house was a torture.
He chose a bicycle over our marriage.
He declared that his dream was to be an IronMan and compete in Kona. He said he wasn’t interested in being married to me anymore.
What happened to me?
I was irate. I was jealous of the bicycle who was now getting my husband all for itself. And I was acting self-righteously.
As Michel approached me with a check one evening in an empty hallway of the house between our two bedrooms, asking me to sign here and there, I felt furious, angry, bitter, resentful, self-righteous… And all that resulted in my arrogant behavior.
Earthly self-righteousness leads to arrogance.
I believed that I was right and he was wrong. I felt that I was all good and he was all bad.
Instead of behaviors of the Spirit, such as humbleness and kindness, I demonstrated behaviors of the Flesh, such as arrogance and hostility.
I judged Michel for his actions and choices. And I wanted to be right.
The person such a behavior hurt the most was me.
You see, worldly righteousness is about separation: I’m right meaning you’re wrong, I’m good meaning you’re bad.
God’s righteousness is not like that at all.
God revealed Himself to me through my journey from arrogant and hostile self-righteousness to humble and peaceful Christ-righteousness.
As I moved out and moved on, God continued His works in my heart about the matter of righteousness.
GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS LEADS TO HUMBLENESS
God’s righteousness is about kindness and humbleness.
Here’s what Romans 3:21 says about God’s righteousness:
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
You see, just like I was betrayed by Michel, so was Jesus betrayed by his people.
But Jesus paid for that unrighteousness with His blood and established righteousness that I don’t have to prove to anyone or pay for.
By accepting Jesus as my lord and savior, I inherit His righteousness for eternity. Not through my own going but by faith only.
And out of gratitude for His amazing grace and my salvation, the desire of my heart is to abide in Christ. And abiding in Him means honoring His commands.
And what did Jesus command me to do?
To love Michel, to be forgiving, humble, kind, to bear with one another, to be patient… Did I do it?
I didn’t do it the evening when Michel brought me that check.
I was not accepting God’s righteousness as His precious child. Instead, I wanted to establish my own righteousness.
As God continued to work in my heart, I later learned my lesson about righteousness.
I went through the most humbling experience of my life and finally discovered how to walk in God’s righteousness and abide in Christ. It leads to peace, not hostility. God’s righteousness is the opposite of self-righteousness.
I’m continuing to learn about this topic every day.
RIGHTEOUSNESS ESTABLISHED BY ONE MAN FOREVER
I always wondered: where does our desire to be above God come from?
God said: do not judge but I judge anyway as if I were above God.
God declares me righteous in Christ yet I keep fighting to prove my own righteousness which results in arrogance.
Why is that?
Romans 5:19 uncovers the cause of this disobedience:
For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Wow! The one man, Adam, disobeyed God, and I was born from him a sinner. That’s why there’s always an internal fight between the Flesh and the Spirit!
But also, through the one man, Jesus, I was set free and made righteous when I accepted Him into my heart and gave my life to Him.
So, if I’m righteous already through my faith in Christ, all I need to do out of gratitude for my eternal righteousness is to give love, kindness, and patience.
I think I’m finally getting it now.
I can see clearly how delighting in my own righteousness leads to separation and turmoil but delighting in the Lord and His inherited righteousness leads to peace, joy, and unity.
I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
THE LESSON ABOUT RIGHTEOUSNESS
The lesson I learned empowers me today to forgive those who mistreat me and give them love, kindness, and encouragement in return. It is not in my own power but in Christ only that it’s even possible.
I accepted that I’m righteous in Christ.
There’s nothing to prove. I can have peace and joy.
What about you?
Can you relate to my story?
Are you accepting that you are righteous through your faith in Jesus?
If so, memorize the Biblical affirmation below and remind yourself often: you are righteous.
I am righteous
Apart from the law,
The righteousness of God has been made known.
The closer to Jesus I draw,
The more God’s righteousness in me is ingrown.
Have you noticed how the closer you draw to Jesus, the easier it is to abide in Him and His righteousness? Share with me in the comments below.
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Anna Szabo is the founder of Online Discipleship For Women, a Christian ministry committed to alleviating suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. Anna teaches how to create a joyful life by embracing God’s word based on her own journey of faith and fortitude.
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