“ALL IN” for the Right Kind of Righteousness

“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Romans 10:1-3)

I have to admit….I have grown to loathe all of these political commercials that we’ve seen on TV over the past couple of months. And it seems like things have only gotten worse in the last week or so. Zeal without knowledge (or ignorance as my grandfather called it) is rampant in our world today. But the stakes reach much higher than the rhetoric of political candidates.

Combine ignorance with spiritual zeal, and you end up with everything from legalism to religious terrorism. Isn’t it ironic that in this passage of Scripture I just read, ignorant zeal is actually what blinded most of the people from the righteousness of God? You see, the point is, there is a right kind of passionate righteousness and there is a wrong kind of passionate righteousness. Obviously, it’s a good thing to be “All In” for God if we are “All In” for the right kind of righteousness. Just like the Jews to whom Paul was writing his letter, we can somehow manage to be “All In” for God and miss Jesus in the process. How does this happen? It happens when we elevate the laws of God over the grace of God.

Laws or rules are very good at one thing – like lines painted on the sides of the road they keep us out of the ditches of life. If you haven’t noticed, we have a tendency to swerve a lot in life. First a little to the left….then an overcorrection to the right. The next thing you know we’ve run off the road and hurt ourselves or others. If we’d only realized in time, those lines on the road were not to restrict us but to help us and others to arrive safely at our destination. But laws or rules are very bad when it comes to making us righteous.

You see, we just can’t seem to consistently keep enough of them to score well on the test of life. But grace can do what laws and rules cannot. Because of grace grades on the curve of Jesus. “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we may become of the righteousness of God.” It’s really an interesting discovery…that righteousness sought through right actions ultimately only leads to frustration and disappointment. But righteousness sought through Jesus ultimately leads to a life with a greater dependence and obedience to the laws or rules of God. How so? Because we want to travel safely in this life until we reach our destination and do as little harm to ourselves and others as possible and that means staying between the lines.

You see, laws and rules make a great servant but a poor Master. So, what’s all this have to do with being “All In”? More than we might initially think…….literally it’s the difference between life and death. When we are “All In” for God through a passionate righteousness curved through Jesus we are now in a powerful position to be a blessing in the world. But, when we are “All In” for God through an ignorant passionate righteousness we are the reincarnation of Saul of Tarsus and we wreak a destructive havoc on the world…..and worse yet, we do it in the name of God. So, by all means, be “All In” today. But in your passion, don’t forget both the origin and object of your intention must reflect the heart of Jesus.