I’ve always kind of winced at some of David’s references to “my righteousness” in the Psalms. And this morning I was in Psalm 18, where several times David says, “Reward me and repay me according to my righteousness.” My usual reaction to his phrasing is, “According to MY righteousness? Yikes, then I am in trouble!” If I get what I deserve or am due according to my righteousness, I am not going to be doing too well.
The Limits of My Righteousness
My righteousness is limited and erratic. “Oh, today I am doing really well!” “Oops, I just screamed at the lady who cut me off…” The righteousness I produce, is very subjective. So if God gives to me based on “my righteousness” then my supply will be very sporadic and limited.
The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; He repaid me according to the cleanness of my hands. For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not turned from my God to wickedness. Indeed, I have kept all His ordinances in mind and have not disregarded His statutes. I was blameless toward Him and kept myself from sinning. So the Lord repaid me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.
Psalms 18:20-24 HCSB
I stared at this with the Lord and clearly saw how this relates to me. My righteousness comes from Another. Knowing this, I want to be repaid and rewarded according to My righteousness. My righteousness comes from the Life of the Lord Jesus. My righteousness is established in Him because I am no more. It is no longer I but HE. My life is in the heavens and now the righteousness I have is His very Life. Oh, this changes everything.
Sure, you might say, “Well duh, John!” But for me this solved a dilemma I had in reading these scriptures. I didn’t realize that from the time I was a young Christian, I always felt condemned by these scriptures. I thought to myself, “But God, I don’t feel righteous. Maybe I can be someday.” You see this whole train of thought left me lacking and wanting. It actually separated me from God – which wasn’t the point at all.
Not I but HE
My righteousness has nothing to do with my efforts but my faith. He is righteousness and He is my life. That makes this scripture the best news ever. Lord, reward me according to my righteousness (which is HIS Life). This scripture is now inclusive rather than exclusive.
This life for me is about His righteousness, His strength, His reward, and Him. Christ came to increase the requirements on our lives. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” See, He upped the ante to make it utterly impossible to live according to “my righteousness.”
My requirement became about intent not just acts. I would be judged according to my heart not just my actions. And which one of us has not had a covetous thought? Who of us has not had jealousy, murder, adultery, and deceit in our thoughts? None of us! We are all, alike, sinners. So how can I ask Him to reward and repay me according to my righteousness? Because of this: Christ increased the requirement on my life while also fulfilling the performance.
Jesus lives His righteousness in me, making it my righteousness. Hallelujah! I am rewarded for the Life of the Rewarder. I am repaid by the efforts of my Redeemer. You see why I am so excited about Psalm 18? These scriptures didn’t isolate me from their fulfillment but instead displayed His intent and performance. Christ is my righteousness and because He is righteous, so am I.