Being righteous and looking righteous are two different things. Looking righteous is something we’ve mastered. We know how to follow the rules, play the game and fit into the church crowd. Maybe you’re like me and are wired to work hard to get things done “right.” I like to please my peers and check items off my to-do list. Often it wins me the approval I crave. I get pats on the back, and it all looks good on the outside.
But on the inside — in the quiet moments — I can find myself exhausted. Sometimes my self-righteousness leaks out and reveals its ugliness through judgmental thoughts and attitudes towards others. It’s at that point when I look at others struggling while thinking I have it together or snapping with impatience when someone delays my next task.
It is hard these days to be righteous and stop the self-righteous me from stepping on others.
Revelation 2:2-5 says, I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
To maintain the right heart, God asks us to keep returning to our first love with Him. To rediscover the newness, lightness and joy we felt at first. He urges us to constantly rekindle passion for Him, which will deepen our love for Him and others.
The beautiful part is God doesn’t call us to love without Him setting the ultimate example. His love is “wide and long and high and deep” (Ephesians 3:18), and it surpasses our thoughts and the works done in our own strength.
Lord, please make me completely righteous and not a bit self-righteous. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.