I haven’t done so in quite some time, but for many years, I played lots of golf as my go-to hobby. Not only was it a hobby, but it was also my job, as I was employed as a golf pro at a couple of courses in my area. It was a pretty fun job, but boy does the sport of golf test your patience! Even on a good day, it was a difficult sport to play no matter how easy the pros make it look on television. I was always trying to make improvements, and no matter how good I got, there were always areas in which to improve my game.
A lot of areas in life are like golf. Time, practice, and determination can be used to ultimately gain mastery of something and on the surface, it appears like you’ve got it all figured out. While that may work for most tasks in life, pursuing righteousness is not one of them. You and I can work hard every day to be good people, to do right and think right, and yet somehow, regardless of effort, come up short in the end. According to the Scriptures, not a single one of us ever comes close to righteousness in the sight of God.
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
“The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14:2-3)
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23)
Wow! What a killjoy huh? Maybe, but it’s important to understand that we really are not as good as we think we are. It’s vital to remember to remain humble, knowing there’s nothing we can do to make ourselves righteous in God’s eyes. We simply are not capable of putting forth enough effort to make it happen. Pretty grim right? Well, it is if we stop there. But immediately following the passage in Romans 3:23, we read this:
“24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 3:24)
You read that right. While we are incapable of mustering up enough effort to become righteous, God, who is all-powerful, is strong enough to do so for us. Through his Son Jesus, we were made the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because Jesus, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, we are justified in the sight of God.
While this gift of righteousness is priceless on its own, what should be our response to it? Once accepted, should we wear God’s righteousness as a badge of honor, a get-out-of-jail-free card, and continue to live with a sinful state of mind? Absolutely not! Instead, we should be compelled to pursue righteousness with all our heart (2 Timothy 2:22), not to earn God’s grace in some way, but to show gratitude for it. We should ultimately try to reflect the character of God and reap the blessings that that lifestyle would provide (Psalm 106:3).
So aim high and think low. Remember that without God, you would be nothing, and with him, you have everything you’ll ever need. Run away from the sins of this world and pursue the righteousness of God and remember to use your life to daily honor him.