How hard do you try to be good?  Do you wonder if God, like Santa Clause, is “making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and nice?”  Maybe you think your efforts to improve have failed so many times that God has given up on you.  If this is how you feel, then I have some excellent news for you!  But, brace yourself because what I am going to tell you may seem too good to be true.

Personal performance is the gauge by which human beings judge success.  Hard work is a worthy ethic in making the world a better place for ourselves and others and is most often met with reward.  Because of this philosophy, however, it is easy to see how our search for God and receiving His love can become skewed.

What is the definition of righteous?  First of all, it is not a feeling.  Otherwise, you and I would move up and down on a scale manufactured by our personal perception.  For example, if one day we were feeling particularly generous to others we might consider ourselves “righteous.”  Or, we may have a bad day when we’re grumpy and lack compassion so that by the end of the day we are discouraged and feeling unrighteous.

Righteousness is also not an action performed by us.  Please look at the title of this writing; “Gift of Righteousness.”  Romans 5:17, NIV.  Nothing about our human nature can sustain us in goodness no matter how hard we try; this is an evident truth upon which I believe we can all agree.  As with any gift, righteousness is not earned by our works; rather it is received on the merits of One Man, Jesus Christ, His death, and resurrection.

Recently, I asked my four young grandchildren to write down their answer to the following question, “what does Jesus want you to give to Him?”  All four unanimously wrote, “He wants my love and my heart.”  Great Answer!  No wonder Jesus said, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 18:3, NIV.  When does it happen that we lose humility and risk the vulnerability of pure faith?  It is not complicated.  As a dear friend reminds me from time to time when she does or says something kind, “just say thank you!” As the beautiful old hymn tells us, “Jesus paid it all.  All to Him, I owe.”  Just say, thank You, Jesus!

Father, how difficult it is to receive and not want to repay You in some way.  Help me realize that Your gifts are unequaled and unearned.  So, I offer You the only thing that is mine to give, my love and my heart. AMEN.

*Hymn written by Elvina Hall.

Sweet Sherry Sharp