How righteous are you? How do you know?
Christianity believes that anyone who asks God to forgive their sins becomes legally righteous. God takes away our guilt by declaring us innocent. But what about our behavior? How good are we? How do we know?
Normally, we determine our behavior by comparing ourselves with others. We look at those around us and develop a moral hierarchy with Mother Teresa at the top, and the person who would sell drugs to children and kick puppies at the bottom. Then, we determine where we land between these extremes, realizing we are not as good as some but better than others.
The problem with comparisons is our tendency to take the path of least resistance. We seldom compare up because those with better behavior make us look bad. We compare down because it helps us feel good about ourselves. We are not as bad as others. However, this creates a sliding scale downward because no matter how bad we become, we can always find someone worse to make us feel superior.
In regard to our behavior, the Bible challenges us to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us" and to "fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2). Our comparisons should not be with one another, but with Jesus. To do so establishes a sliding scale upward making Christ likeness our goal.
When it comes to righteousness, only Jesus is our example and gauge.
Pastor Mark Holmes is an ordained minister in the Wesleyan Church and has served the Darrow Road Wesleyan Church since 1997.