“His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere” (Isaiah 61:11b, NLT).
Every fall the seed catalogs began arriving at our house and my dad would pore over them, making his list of all the vegetables and flowers he wanted to plant in the spring. He set up lights in the basement to get them going so the seedlings could be set out as soon as possible. Having a garden in Colorado could be iffy as it sometimes snowed as late as May, but it was wonderful to watch everything sprout and grow. His garden gave my dad a lot of joy.
In Christ, God’s righteousness is planted in the hearts of those who believe and trust in him. Just as seedlings take time to grow, so his righteousness in us takes time and nurture to develop. Sometimes we get impatient with each other, thinking because we’re Christians, we should be perfect, or at least further along than we are. We need to remember any good in us is from God—it’s his goodness, his righteousness and he is the one who causes us to grow and become more like him. Picturing each other as seedlings in God’s garden might help us be more like the Master Gardener as he patiently waits, nurtures and loves us to maturity.
“Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life” (Titus 3:7, NLT).
The word “righteous” means virtuous or morally upright and is often paired with “self.” It is usually used in reference to Christians who take a stand for what they believe is right. While Christians could do this in a kinder, gentler way, it’s unfortunate how misguided zeal and righteous indignation have cast a shadow on what righteousness really is and where it comes from.
The word means so much more than the description in the dictionary. God is the only one who is truly righteous. He is the best and the brightest, the glorious shining one whose goodness is like a blinding light to us. In his love and grace and because of what Jesus did, he gives us some of his righteousness. We do nothing to obtain it and cannot maintain it except through our union with him, which the Spirit strengthens and deepens as we continue to stay close and trust him. May we only and ever be accused of being God-righteous.
“I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10, NLT).
The clothing industry is one of the biggest businesses in the world. From the manufacture of cloth, to designing and sewing, to marketing and selling, clothing the world employs a lot of people and takes a lot of energy. Whether we like it or not, how we dress projects an image (accurate or not) of who we are.
When we become new creatures in Christ, we are given a new set of clothing, more wonderful than any we have ever worn before. God himself clothes us with salvation and a robe of righteousness—the righteousness of Christ, which we share through the working of the Holy Spirit within us. The clothing we receive from God projects a new image, Christ’s image in us. We can never go wrong when we are dressed by God—it will never go out of style.