The biggest donut in the packet. The pink plate over the blue one. Productivity in every moment. Leader rather than helper at Christianity explored. A PB, no even better, a crown on Strava. The top position on Memrise app. An hour to ourselves….
We spend our days grabbing, trying to take and seize, fighting for and clinging to our possessions, time, and self.
Children sniping at each other, and fights over toys frustrate us and stir up magnanimous speeches about not selfishly grabbing, about the need to share, to give, to serve one another. Oh how we tut and shake our heads and believe ourselves to have risen above such childish grabbing ways. Oh thank you God that I am not like one of these….. Self declaring self righteous.
Or maybe it isn’t the virtuous speech. Instead, it provoked annoyance and frustration that we have better things to be doing with our precious time than attending to someone else’s grievance. So instead, we snatch the toy away ourselves, shout something about if you can’t play nicely don’t play at all, then go and grab ourselves some peace and quiet with a cup of tea and time for ourselves. Self serving self.
Constant grabbing, snatching, taking, fighting all for self. For me. Mine. All mine.
Soon the fighting 4 and 6 year old prove to be a very uncomfortable mirror of our own hearts. Of my heart.
Or maybe, it’s not for self, but for God. We cling to our works for the Lord, our sincere parenting, our speeches in his name, our prayer time, our role at church. We cling and we bring to God. The problem is we are clinging to ourselves. We are bringing what we claim as our own.
It is so ironic that my self righteousness seeks power and glory and yet it’s like grabbing at thin air. It’s a pointless pursuit. Where we seek gain, we will only find loss.
There is a better way.
Not a better way to conflict resolution, or putting a stop to someone else’s grabbing. The issue here is not one of words…. It may be right to talk of patience in the moment; it may be wiser to remove the toy. The focus is not on the words. It’s on our hearts.
Whether I fight through virtuous preaching at others, or fight for time to myself, the problem is the fighting of my heart for self righteousness, out of self righteousness. Fighting for my voice, my pride, my time.
There is a better righteousness and its one that calls our hearts not to fight but to flee.
To flee and run and come boldly to the throne of grace: grace that is the gift of God himself, the gift of forgiveness, mercy and reconciliation. God does call us to cling on, to grab hold, to not let go, but not to our self defence neither to our own righteousness, but to him, his very self, his righteousness.
To the better, joy-giving, rather than joy-snatching, life-giving rather than evidence-condemning, righteousness of Christ himself. Jesus brought this better righteousness into the world. We need to bring it into our hearts.
You see if Jesus himself is my righteousness, I no longer need to seek my own. Our craving for glory, happiness and peaceful situations is given us by God. We have just shifted the object, the source and motivation away from God himself to ourselves.
But imagine, how much more glorious to be gifted this happiness, this peace, this glory by none less than God himself. If we snatch and grab for righteousness, we will grabbing at thin air. If we declare ourselves righteous, we bring our own testimony against ourselves. If the sin of others causes us to come boldly to ourselves in smug pride, we lose all blessing of coming boldly to our Father.
He bids us come to be gifted with the better righteousness, the righteousness of his Son. When we come, not with hands full of deeds and words fighting for our defence, but with empty hands, clinging not to ourselves but to Christ and his righteousness, then we are filled. Our fleeing becomes his fight. When we let go of faith in self, we can be assured He who is faithful will never let us go.
Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling
1 Corinthians 1v30-31: And because of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, and sanctification and redemption
Philippians 3v9b: ‘not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith’
Romans 10v3-4: For being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
(ESV. Italics own)