The words come hard, slow. Ideas that have sat muddled in my mind for weeks fight to sharpen and focus. What does it mean—practically, spiritually—to seek righteousness over rightness?
It’s a hard topic; it’s one that resides in the nucleus, forming the thoughts, the actions. Which do I long for more? Do I long to be right? To know the answer. To speak the truth. To defend myself. Or do I long to be righteous? To seek the Kingdom. To give up the life. To deny myself.
And where is that hallowed middle ground?
So we have to start here. Here, at the holy truth, the bright and shining reality, the one that clears the bramble and opens the path:
Our validation does not come from being right. Our validation comes from the source of our righteousness, which is Jesus.
And when I test this against my actions, the grain falls heavy and the chaff blows free. Relying on my rightness for validation leaves me hungry, full of food but craving for more. And it leaves me angry, when others don’t feed my need to be right. But, my mind scrambles to justify, can we shortchange the truth at the cost of our sin?
And the Word knows this thought. So it speaks the truth with kindness and conviction:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
So the truth is not shortchanged at all; it is overpaid by those redeemed with love. Only with Jesus comes truth with love. Love: that rare and holy thing that makes a person die to self, to desire, to instinct, to pride, and look the neighbor in the eye and say, your needs are first. Your burden is mine. Your feelings are important.
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
While rightness and righteousness are bone of bone and flesh of flesh, our first desire should be for righteousness. My, how I wish I could say it was daily mine. Because we’re called to daily sacrifice. We’re called to loss of life. And with that loss comes love enough to seek the best for the neighbor and the second for the self.
We are not called to “being right.” We’re called to righteousness.
Calm the roar of voices, the tirade of rightness, Lord, and lead us in love and righteousness, that our words may reflect Your own.