What does it mean for Christ to be my righteousness? It means that each morning when I wake up, the Father is smiling down at me. He hands me a Math test with an A+ written on the top, next to my name. All the circumstances of my day are the “problems” on the test, and whether I make a mistake or even get so frustrated with the problem I’m trying to figure out on my own that it takes me lots of scribbling and erasing before I look over at Him, He whispers in my ear, “I love you. Never forget this test is meant to be done together, so keep confessing the pride that makes you want to try to do it on your own. You aren’t here to prove your love to Me but to receive My love with thankfulness, because even though I’m your Teacher, I’m also your Father, and your only identity is that you’re my daughter. That’s the kind of love you can whisper to others who are working on their own tests with Me.” (See 2 Cor. 5:21, Eph. 1:4, Lam. 3:22-24)
I want to receive God’s love so fully that it fills up my own heart and spills over onto others. Yet it’s so natural to do things that are, well. . . unloving.
I see someone at the library I met once before who just had a new baby. Instead of congratulating her and asking how she’s doing, I check out my books and slip past her.
At the grocery store, someone comments on how happy my children are, and I miss a chance to tell her that even though they aren’t always like this, we have a reason to be happy because we have Jesus.
When I’m cooking and don’t answer my son’s question right away, I respond in anger to my son’s impatience with me.
I don’t listen well when my husband suggests an idea for cleaning up my email inbox. I assume that my way is the best, and selfish pride keeps me from even wanting to take the time to understand his method.
These convictions and missed opportunities used to lead me to despair. How could I confess to love Jesus and act this way toward others? Haven’t I been a Christian long enough to know better? Will I ever get it right?
No. No I won’t. And I don’t have to.
Jesus’s death paid for all the guilt and shame of every sin I’ve ever committed and will commit. But our lives don’t become a blank slate so that we have to start all over with trying to be good enough. When I receive Jesus, I receive His righteousness as if I’d acted perfectly. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
As if I truly loved every person in every interaction I’ve had and will have.
As if I gave glory to God in every response to others’ questions and comments.
As if I sacrificially loved and disciplined and responded perfectly in every situation with my children.
As if I always put my husband’s needs before my own.
That’s what Jesus did when He lived this life on earth, and that’s what the Father sees when He looks at me.
I don’t need to impress God because He’s already been impressed by Jesus.
I don’t need to hide my shame when I fail because Jesus bore it on the cross.
Yeah, But What Are We Supposed To Do?
When we sinfully let someone down, we apologize and point them to the One who will never fail them (and who always lovingly listens to every question, comment, and request).
Each time we are aware of our sin, we respond in worship to God, thanking Him for His righteousness given to us.
We spend time reading His Word, getting to know His character and how He cares for His children through the Old and New Testament, and how it’s most fully revealed in Jesus. We learn His ways.
And when our minds are filled with who He is and what He calls us to, His Spirit can lead us to repentance, seeing the crushing weight of our sin not crushing us but crushing Jesus to death, bringing us the peace and healing we long for. (Isaiah 53:5)
“For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:14)
We keep walking toward God, knowing that Jesus walks right in front of us, never faltering or veering off the path.
And maybe, some of that love just might start to spill over onto those He brings to us.