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Matthew 6:33 has been my favorite Bible verse for as long as I can remember; the only problem was, I was reading it wrong for most of my life.
Here it is:
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (NASB)
I interpreted the verse like this: Seek God first and do the right thing, and all these things will be added to you. In my mind that meant I needed to work continuously to live right which put me on a works trip. My works trip dropped me off in a town called frustration every time.
Sometime last year my lightening fast brain realized that Matthew 6:33 says seek His righteousness, not my own righteousness. Oh my goodness, how did I miss that, I thought?
I like how the Amplified translation expounds on His righteousness. It says His way of doing and being right. This is good news for every Christian because it means we have God’s way of doing and being right living on the inside of us!
This certainly wasn’t the first time I had misinterpreted the scriptures as a result of reading the Bible through the eyes of legalism.
As a side note, some translations for certain verses can be confusing as well. The Young’s Literal Translation (YLT), I have heard from a very reliable source, is one of the closest literal translations to the Hebrew and Greek. I have also heard that the New American Standard Bible (NASB) is a very literal translation.
I do use many different translations, but I check them with the YLT and NASB many times to see how they compare. Really, I don’t find many problems, but once in a while I do come across a verse in a certain translation that I feel could confuse people.
Even with this verse in Matthew 6:33, I noticed that some translations make it sound like it is based on our righteousness (that it’s up to us) and that is not how the verse reads in the original Greek. It clearly states “His righteousness.”
There is a big difference in God’s righteousness and our righteousness. Here is what the prophet Isaiah had to say about our righteousness:
Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)
We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we display our righteous deeds,
they are nothing but filthy rags.
But the good news is….
2 Corinthians 5:21 says this: For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (NKJV)
The Vine’s expository dictionary of New Testament words defines righteousness as “the character or quality of being right or just;” It is used to denote an attribute of God, e.g., Rom. 3:5, the context of which shows that “the righteousness of God” means essentially the same as His faithfulness, or truthfulness, that which is consistent with His own nature and promises.
If you want to live with confidence always remember that you have God’s nature living on the inside of you!
If you are a believer in Jesus and have accepted Jesus as your Savior, You already have His righteousness as a gift according to Romans 5:17! This is really good news and something I want to encourage you to remember daily and speak over yourself often.
To be established in something is to have that something as your very foundation for security. God wants you to be sure of and grow daily in the revelation that you are righteous by the blood that Jesus shed for you through His willing sacrifice on the cross.
Anytime we are struggling with anything and feeling anxiety and frustration we can remind ourselves in that very moment of who we are in Christ. In fact, this is the perfect time for us to remember and speak out that we are the righteousness of God in Christ and we have His righteousness! You should try it. You will find yourself relaxing when you replace the feelings of guilt and condemnation, which cause anxiety and frustration, with the truth of your right standing with God.
Since your righteousness is in Christ and not in your own performance, but is a gift to you because of Jesus’ finished work, the more you believe and receive this truth, the more stable, calm and confident you will feel. It is so worth spending your mental energy on meditating on this Biblical truth.
I was talking to a friend just yesterday who was asking my advice about something and she kept saying this in her texts” “I’m working on that.”
After a while I felt I needed to ask her what she meant by I’m working on that because I wasn’t convinced that she meant I’m letting The Holy Spirit work in and through me to change me from the inside out.
Come to find out we needed to back track and make sure she was doing everything she was doing from a foundation of God’s grace and led by the Holy Spirit instead of in her own strength.
Here is what my friend was doing and what we all do from time to time:
3 For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with Himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. 4For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in Him are made right with God. (NLT)
Of course I emailed the paragraph you just read to my friend to see if she approved it before I used it. Here is what she said about herself:
Approved. This friend was depending on herself to “work this out” instead of letting Jesus work it out. She was stressed out. Anxious, afraid, mad, bitter and resentful…
This is always going to be the result of trying to live by our own righteousness. It is living under the law instead of living under grace. The Apostle Paul refers to the law as the ministry of death and the ministry of condemnation. (see 2 Corinthians 3:7-9)
He didn’t say this because there was anything wrong with the law in and of itself. The law is holy, but because the law is impossible to keep perfectly it gives everyone who lives by it the constant feeling that they are coming up short. I’m sure we can all say “been there, done that” more times than we care to remember.
Those who live the Christian life by the law (by trying real hard to keep all the rules) will constantly be disappointed. In fact the Apostle Paul says in Galatians that those who try to live this way are actually doomed to disappointment. Yikes! (see Galatians 3:10)
But thank you God for sending Jesus to fulfill the law on our behalf and thank you Jesus for coming for us!
I’m telling you my friend, because you have Jesus, you already have His righteousness.
Once again we come back to our believing. I hope you never get tired of hearing me talk about our believing because I want to pre-warn you that it may be in everything I write. The reason is that I feel it was the most critical piece of revelation that helped me pack up my bags and finally move out of the town of frustration.
The friend I said I talked to yesterday – she is on her way out too because she is going deeper, beyond her actions to her beliefs. She is learning that her right beliefs about what she has in Christ Jesus is the very thing that will result in right actions.
Listen….we can have something for years and not even know that we have it and until we know we have it, it won’t do us a bit of good.
I recommend that you take the revelation of your righteousness in Christ and apply it to your own life. Here is how you can do this:
You can Google this phrase: Bible verses on our righteousness in Christ. Then as you read the scriptures and meditate on them you will be able to say with assurance, that promise applies to me and that promise applies to me and that promise too!
I will help you get started:
Psalm 5:12 (AMP)
For You, Lord, will bless the [uncompromisingly] righteous [him who is upright and in right standing with You]; as with a shield You will surround him with goodwill (pleasure and favor).
Now you know you can read this verse and instead of saying, I don’t feel this verse is true for me right now because I just blew it. You can say, yep, that’s for me because I am the righteousness of God is Christ. God is blessing me and surrounding me with goodwill right now!”
When you start meditating on Biblical truths like this, these promises will become your default reaction to satan’s lies.
You will become more confident as you become more established in the righteousness you have in Christ. Right behavior will begin to flow out of your right believing. You will be so excited about discovering the goodness of God over and over again that you won’t be able to help yourself.
Your love walk will increase and you will turn around and think, how did I change in that area? The only answer you will have is, by the grace of God and the gift of His righteousness!
Romans 5:17 says this:
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! (NIV)
If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!