Righteousness: do we actually want it?

People pay big money for seminars and online classes about so many things. Real estate, writing, social media management, you name it! We are very willing to learn from people who have found success ahead of us. We will pay them to teach us what they know. So why do we reject those who want to teach us about righteousness?

Maybe not as willing as we thought

Yet, we are typically not as open to a more seasoned Christ follower teaching us how to get free of sin. Those who have walked as Christ followers for years may try to share what they’ve learned. They may try to help others avoid some of the same pitfalls – and they are called judgmental.

Do not judge

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Clearly in Matthew 7:1-4 we’re told not to judge. The root of the word used here has to do with legal authority, and rule. It may help to think of this judgment as more of a heart position. Think more along the lines of the word judgemental, which is characterized by a tendency to judge harshly. Nothing Jesus calls us to is harsh. Everything about Him is full of grace and truth.

Oh, it may sting, but it’s never harsh.

The above noted verse is often quoted by people, as if to say, “mind your own business.” Yet, in verse 5 it says:

First take the log out of your eye and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:5

Clearly the instruction – right out of Jesus’s mouth – is when we have walked that path and learned how to remove sin from our own life then we can go to our brothers and sisters in Christ and help them remove sin from their own.

Not judge them, but help them.

Who are we helping? Our brothers and sisters in Christ. Not those who do not claim to be Christ followers. We are not called to help them walk the path of following Christ. They aren’t even on this path.

Rather, we’re called to lead them to Christ. Then, once they have chosen to become Christ followers, we can help them remove the sin from their life.

With grace and truth, like Jesus would.

But what happens when we try to remove sin from the world? Well, verse 6 tells us:

don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.

Matthew 7:6

Why? Because they will view what we’re doing as judgment.

Dogs and pigs?

And before you get upset at the reference of dogs and pigs, understand what He is saying. Dogs were not pets in those days… they were more more like wild animals, they traveled in packs or groups and they attacked weaker animals. Pigs are voracious, always seeking food. Giving them something that was not edible could actually antagonize them and cause them to become aggressive toward you.

Jesus was saying don’t waste your time trying to change the sin of those who are only going to become antagonized by it. Our relationship with those who are not Christ followers is addressed in many other places in the Bible. We are to extend love, extend grace, and lead them to Christ.

What is our role?

Sadly many of us have misunderstood our role, and misunderstood judgment. We’ve misunderstood what it is to remove the speck from our brothers eye. It actually is a loving thing to do. But mishandling this over the years has created a problem for us today. And really the only way that we can get out of the strife and the chaos that we’re in is for each one of us, every Christ follower, to spend time in God’s presence asking him to teach us where we go from here. We must ask Him to show us how to rightly divide this word, and live it out.

Marked by righteousness

My friend recently said to me, “Just because someone is being righteous doesn’t mean they are being self righteous “. We are called to live lives marked by righteousness. We are also called to teach others how to do the same.

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