Journey to Daily Prayer – Day 10
Friday in First Week of Lent
“righteousness that exceeds the scribes and Pharisees”
Who here thinks our Ezekiel reading is just a little bit harsh? We love that if an unrighteous person seeks righteousness, they will surely live, not die. But should a righteous person who does unrighteousness die, and not live? What if someone lived a really long and righteous life and then did one small unrighteous thing; do they now die? The truth is this only seems absurd, if we have an absurd concept of righteousness. Righteousness is more than checking off our moral ABC’s. Righteousness is pursuing God, the source of life, wholeheartedly. This is why Jesus commands that our righteousness must exceed the scribes and Pharisees, the Biblical experts of checking off the moral ABC’s. (Mt 5:20) Thus, when the wicked turns to God, they are turning to life; when the righteous turn away from God, they are turning to death. That’s why righteousness is life, and unrighteousness is death. But what does pursuing-God righteousness look like? Before you come to the altar on Sunday to receive Jesus’s body and blood, ask yourself: “Am I withholding forgiveness from anyone, or have I forgiven everyone in my life, the same way God has forgiven me?” Because righteousness looks like forgiving others just as we have experienced God’s forgiveness deep in our hearts and souls. To not forgive is to not fully know the Lord’s forgiveness for our own sins and trespasses. And isn’t to not know the Lord’s forgiveness death in itself? So if you are at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, go, and first be reconciled to your brother. (Mt 5:23-24) For then your righteousness will exceed the scribes and the Pharisees!
Lord Christ, our eternal Redeemer, grant us such fellowship in thy sufferings, that, filled with thy Holy Spirit, we may subdue the flesh to the spirit, and the spirit to thee, and at the last attain to the glory of thy resurrection; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.