EXCEEDING RIGHTEOUSNESS

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”          Mt. 5:20 ESV
When I read this in my early years as a Christian, I foolishly thought, oh, that’s not hard to do, Jesus called them hypocrites, white-washed tombs…. If marriage has taught me one thing, it has taught me how far from God’s righteousness I fall short. Oswald Chambers in his devotional Daily Thoughts for Disciples explains this verse in this way:  “We are not only to exceed but we have to be all they are and infinitely more! We are to be as right, and ‘righter’ in our internal behavior. We are to be as right in our words, actions but we are to be right in our thoughts and feelings too. We are to be right according to the conventions of the society of godly people, but we are also to be right in conscience towards God. Our ‘thank you’ for our salvation is that our righteousness is to exceed the righteousness of the most moral people on earth – that our external life is above censure but that we are above censure where God sees us. We are to be so pure that God who sees to the inmost springs of our motives, the inmost dreams of our dreams, sees nothing to censure.” He states, “we shall never produce that kind of purity,” but reminds us, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, cleanses us from all sin.”  1 Jn. 1:7.
I can be right in my actions and words and so wrong in my thoughts and feelings. I can ‘look’ like a godly Christian on the outside, but on the inside my attitudes, motives can be so ungodly… Our marriage can look right on the outside, but on the inside, it is filled with bitterness and strife, mumbling and grumbling, resentment and unforgiveness…
God further instructs us in Jn. 14:15 that if we love him, we will keep his commandments. What characterizes our marriages? What characterizes our hearts about our marriages, about our actions, thoughts, motives behind what we do in our marriages?
God is looking for pure marriages, marriages that reflect His glory, His goodness, His grace. And in His grace, He gives us Jesus Christ to not only cleanse us from all our sins, but He gives us grace to walk in light that we may have fellowship with one another – fellowship certainly with Him, but also with one another. What better person to be in fellowship with than our spouse? God gives us His word. Chambers proposes that the word obey can be synonymous with the word use. “As scientists use the laws of nature, more,  they obey the laws of nature to cause them to fulfill their destiny in scientific work, so we should use the commands of the Lord that God may fulfill His purpose for our lives.”
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 2 Pet. 1:3-4 NLT
I pray we would be a people of God who use His word in our marriages.

by Patti Calderon

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