Pastor Mike Dedera preached tonight at Jefferson Baptist Church and he will tomorrow as well in both services. It was so good I thought I might write out the short version for you.
We all want to be righteous, that is to do the right thing. If we are parents we would like our kids to be righteous, if we are married we would love it if our spouse was righteous, and we all recognize that if we all were more righteous that the world would be such a much better place to live in.
The problem is that we all have failed at being righteous and we aren’t sure how to make it happen, so we feel guilty, we get upset at those we feel are flaunting their righteousness, or judging us, so the bottom line ends up being that we just ignore the pursuit of righteousness altogether, and just declare ourselves OK.
Nobody becomes righteous by “trying harder”. When we try harder because we have messed, we mess up again and usually worse. Nobody becomes righteous by following laws or rules, it ends up just like “trying harder”, and we usually use our rules to judge others so that we look a little better in our own eyes.
A key word in the pursuit of righteousness is “training” instead of “trying”. Training suggests that we are on a journey that will take awhile, but we are in progress. Training suggests a training routine or disciplines that we practice to get gradually better. Training allows for good days and bad days, but trending up. Training is always more fun when we do it together with others who are training with the same goal in mind. When we train together we are motivated to encourage each other and build each other up as we pursue righteousness together instead of judge or criticize.
What energizes our pursuit of righteousness is our relationship with Jesus. As we pursue Him and grow closer to Him He energizes and motivates us through the Holy Spirit. He has given us the means to grow close to Him by giving us His Word the Bible, the gift of prayer, and the freedom that comes from confessing all of our sins to Him and experiencing His forgiveness and cleansing. Reading the Bible is not a rule to be kept it is seeking Him by listening to Him through His written Word, prayer is not a duty that good Christians are supposed to do, it is talking to Jesus about our needs, problems, and frustrations, and confessing all our known sins to the Lord is acknowledging that He saw us do them anyway, and we aren’t going to hide, pretend, or blame, but seek Him for the help to grow.