It is one of my greatest dreads: going to the mail box and finding that horrible little card informing me that I have been selected for jury duty. They might as well write, “You’ve been chosen to have all joy sucked from your life on this date.” No one wakes up on a Tuesday thinking, “I really wish I could be selected to sit in a uncomfortable box and make $17 a day to listen to people argue.” Nobody serves jury duty because they want to; we serve jury duty because we have to.
The problem is, many of us serve Jesus the same way.
Often you and I serve God more out of duty than delight and as a result, dishonor God and miss out on the joy of obeying Him. In Matthew 5:6, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
That word “righteousness” is used a couple different ways in the New Testament. For instance, when the Apostle Paul uses it, he does so most often as a synonym for “justification”, the instantaneous act of God declaring us forgiven of sin and righteous by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. However, Jesus doesn’t use this word that way even one time in the gospel of Matthew. When Jesus uses the word “righteous”, He’s talking about obeying God’s will God’s way. Now, notice that righteousness has two parts.
1. Righteousness means obeying God’s will.
This is pretty straightforward, right? To obey God’s will means we do what He says to do and we don’t do what He says not to do. But, that’s not the totality of the righteousness prescribed by Jesus.
2. Righteousness means obeying God’s will God’s way.
This means we obey God out of love and delight rather than out of begrudging duty. One of the things we’re trying to teach our kids at our house is to obey right away, all the way, with a right attitude. That’s what Jesus longs for from you and me: immediate, complete, and willing obedience.
God doesn’t just want your obedience, He wants your heart. Righteousness is obeying God’s will God’s way. Until we obey God’s will because we want to, because we love God and want to trust and serve Him, our lives may appear righteous, but God sees otherwise. We need to repent of doing even the right thing the wrong way. We need to stop serving Jesus like we do jury duty and start serving Him out of the love and delight that He delivers by grace.