For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1: 17
For what does scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. Romans 4:3
I clean up pretty well (my person, not my house). My stinky post-running body is quickly transformed by a hot shower, fragrant soap, expensive shampoo, a little make-up and a nice dress.
In under an hour, all the remnants of my hot stinky mess of a self are gone.
I wish it just as easy to clean up the hot stinky mess of my heart.
I went through a season of my life where my life was a fraud. From the outside I looked put together: Bible teacher, minister’s wife, stay-at-home mom, the apperance of a growing godly woman. On the inside I was a hot mess: hard hearted, judgmental, works driven, spiritually barren. I was living a life based on external righteousness. I had let my faith become works. I had traded my faith in God for working for Him.
It’s easy to get caught up in the trappings of works based righteousness. We want to please God, so we begin to do the things we think will make Him happy. We join Bible studies, we serve in church, we volunteer in the community, we give up curse words, we avoid worldly things, and we begin to build a resume of righteousness. The problem is instead of allowing righteousness to emerge from the inside out, we fight to force it to emerge from the outside in.
In Romans, the apostle Paul paints a different picture of righteousness. The word he uses for righteousness is better translated rightwiseness. The righteousness of Romans 1:16-17 and 4:3-5, is an inside-out phenomenon. It flows from the very essence of God’s character. Righteousness is an attribute of God which is linked to His nature, tied to His promises, and interwoven with His faithfulness and truthfulness.
We can’t make ourselves righteous: not obedience, being good, abstaining from bad things, or church attendance. Righteousness is given to us by God. He imparts His righteousness to us through our faith. When we accept salvation by faith in Christ, we sign up to walk by that faith for the rest of our lives. Abraham’s faith was counted as righteousness because he continually walked in faith following God.
Righteousness emerges in us when we surrender ourselves to God.
My life gets stinky not because of what is outside of it, but because of what is inside of it. In the same way, my life may look good on the outside, but that doesn’t mean it’s righteous on the inside. You see, when my life is squeezed what is deep inside of me comes out. My circumstances don’t make me righteousness or unrighteous; my circumstances reveal the depth of God’s rightwiseness within me.
God’s goal for me is not look good on the outside. God’s goal is for me to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus.
Just like a shower can clean up my outsides, God has been scrubbing away at my self-righteousness. Layer by layer He has gently chipped away the harden varnish built up around my faith through my self-righteous works. He is softening my heart bringing me to the end of myself and making me dependent upon Him. In the process, I have begun exchanging striving for righteousness for resting in faith relying on Him to transform my faith into something authentic and true.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.