Righteous is not about being right. It's all about being in the right relationship. In the original language, the concept of righteousness is fulfilling the duties of your relationship role.
* Two criminals could be considered righteous in their relationships.
* Parents need to raise their children without harshness.
* Children need to be obedient and respectful.
* Husbands and wives have different roles to fulfill.
* Citizen and police officer have a certain relationship.
We need to put relationship over being right. Relationship needs to take precedence over being right. That's an important principle for all of us. As Christians, we understand what being right means. We can still be unrighteous in relationship, though. We'd like to be right and righteous at the same time. It's even harder to be wronged and righteous.
1. Right, but unrighteous
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.
3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,
5 "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages."
6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
Judas was an accountant / treasurer. He handled the money. Remember when Jesus called him in Mark 3? Did Jesus make a mistake; did he pick a bad egg when he chose Judas as an apostle?
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Even after Judas started going bad, Jesus still spoke this about him.
49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed him.
50 Jesus replied, "Friend, do what you came for." Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.
Jesus still called Judas "friend," even after he decided to betray Jesus. The relationship had already changed. Judas shifted from "friend" to "teacher" What happened? How did he make that transition from being chosen to being betrayer? Here are a few possibilities . . .
Was he in debt? He didn't have credit cards, but perhaps he could have had debts he couldn't pay. When you get in debt, it is one of the greatest traps that Satan can use to draw you away from God. May be Judas had a financial problem. Maybe he had a difference of opinion. Many times we have struggles with how money is spent. It's a difference of opinion, or we don't understand. The key is that when we don't give others the benefit of the doubt, we lose our trust.
Maybe he lost his outward focus. It says he didn't really care about the poor. May be he started caring more about himself than he cared about others. Whatever the cause, Judas was technically right but he lost the relationship.
When we think of relationships, we can think of God, Christians and the lost. We need to be close to all three. The lost is probably the hardest for some, God is middle and our peers are the easiest. If we are not close to our brothers, though, if we have not forgiven them, then we are not close to God.
2. Righteous, although wronged
32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.
33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).
34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.
35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.
37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.
38 Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.
39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads
40 and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"
41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.
42 "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
Have you ever known you're right, and yet been unable to convince others? How do you feel when they mock you? Jesus didn't fight to be right, but sacrificed everything to save the relationship. 1 Peter 2:23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
Sometimes we are right, but are we willing to give that up and be wronged for the sake of relationship. Jesus was our ultimate example, and he didn't choose to grasp his rights (Phil 2).
1 Corinthians 6:7
The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?
It's better to be wronged than to lose the relationship. Jesus was wronged, but he was righteous. Let's determine to be righteous in relationship, not just right in our judgments and actions. We need to see everything from a spiritual perspective. We need to see God's hand at work. We just need to be faithful to God till the end. If we can keep our relationships right, that's really all that matters.