Romans 8:4 …in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
What does the word righteous mean anyway? Most of you reading this are church workers, maybe you went to a Concordia or the Seminary. You can offer a dictionary definition of Biblical righteousness, but it’s still a vague idea in our hearts for the most part. People throw around words like spotless, holiness, to justify, made right, acts of good moral behavior, but Christ’s righteousness is so profound that it’s hard to put it in a text box and wrap our minds around the concept (even after 4 years of Seminary!). Christ is Right, therefore we are right with God. We can’t do it on our own. We are justified, made holy, spotless when God sees us, because Christ walked this Earth, died, and rose for us. He welcomes us in our baptisms, declares us spotless! Blameless! Holy! Right!
How does righteousness affect us in our horizontal relationships then? How do we “walk according to the Spirit” instead of the flesh…because we are made right by Christ?
Well, don’t miss the slightly comical word association here. How many arguments in our married relationships are about wanting to be right? We don’t want to give up our conviction, in the moment, that we are right, by golly, and our spouse simply needs to be able to see it. We plow forward, desperate to show them our point of view. We become more impassioned. Our tone changes. We stop seeing our spouse. We look through them and can only see our own perspective. We stop seeing them as a highly valued child of God and see them as a roadblock.
In that moment, God invites us to see true righteousness. We have the Spirit of Christ in us. In that moment, we can look our spouse in the eye and see the Spirit of Christ in them. We can see rightness, and holiness, and one loved by God. This changes everything. If I see you as holy and valuable, how will my language change, my tone change, my heart change?
Christ alone makes us right. Nothing in our marriage or our communication failures can change that. However, God gives us a place in marriage to honor what Christ has declared. We can see righteousness, instead of simply being right for a moment.