Righteousness is an attribute of God. It can only be obtained through a relationship with Jesus Christ. It does not matter what we do, what we say, where we go, or how we act. Unless we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, we cannot be righteous. We live out our faith through a right lifestyle.
Righteousness is something we should pursue, but it cannot be produced. It is a gift from God. It cannot be be purchased or attained on our own. We cannot manufacture righteousness any more than we can manufacture human blood. There is only one way to obtain human blood, and it is only through one Man that we obtain righteousness.
The key to authenticity
Spending time in the Word, spending time in prayer, doing the right actions or using the right language does nothing to help us attain righteousness. It is only when our focus is on growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ that we experience this attribute. When a desire for righteousness exceeds a desire for a relationship with Jesus, everything that results is a counterfeit for righteousness*. It’s the relationship that blossoms in righteousness.
For those of us who are doers and list-makers, this is not something we can add to our list. How do we put “develop a relationship with Jesus” on our list? We can include “Bible reading”, “prayer time”, “worship time”, and “take a pot of soup to a neighbor” on our list, but we can’t put the relationship on the list, because it’s an ongoing, never-ending action of the heart. In addition, we can list areas in which we are lacking: patience, perseverance, kindness, joyfulness, peacefulness, gentleness, self-control, and meekness. When we view the list, we can choose actions and attitudes that develop these character qualities. We can watch the changes inside our hearts as our fruit grows. I dare say that most of us can give a rating on how close we feel to Jesus in the daily of life; that itself is a gauge for measuring our relationship with Christ.
The key to relationship
We can know someone without understanding how they think and feel. To truly know someone means we spend time with them. We cultivate learning to know the person, and this means we give up other things and relationships to focus on the one most important to us. While spending time in the Word, praying for others (and ourselves) and participating in activities is important, it does not cut it. Reading a letter, but not responding to the letter does not cultivate relationship. Learning about someone from others instead of spending time to nurture does not develop relationship.
When we want to learn to know Jesus, we must spend time with Him. We need to listen to His desires and then pursue what He wants above our wants. A relationship only develops with time spent together. There is no other way to develop the quality of righteousness than to spend time with the One who is called Righteous.
* a quote from Dave in one of his sermons