Last month I discussed righteousness and from reading Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes found out "a righteous person is not the one who observes a particular code of ethics but rather a person or community granted a special relationship of acceptance in the presence of God. That relationship is maintained by acting in loyalty to the giver of the unearned status."
So righteousness has more to do with relationship than any set of rules or traditions that I should follow. However, it seems we maintain this relationship by doing something.
At times I've been questioned about good works and if they are necessary for salvation. I've always thought our good works do not save us, they don't earn us a spot in heaven, however, we do good works because we are saved. Perhaps a better way to phrase "we are saved" is to say we do good works because we have been made righteous, we have been given this "special relationship of acceptance" by God. Therefore good works which please God are a result of being in relationship. It's not something we do so He will notice us and say, "Hmmm, that one right there seems to be trying hard. I think I'll accept her." According to author Kenneth Bailey this relationship with God is an "unearned status."
God declares in the Old Testament that Israel was not chosen because it consisted of good people. He didn't look down and see this holy and loving nation and choose them to work through because of their upright qualities. Nope, He chose Israel in spite of themselves. I read through the Old Testament last year and was reminded again how far short the children of Israel fell in obeying the Law and pleasing God. In fact they often caused Him grief and stirred His anger! (Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Micah and so forth were sent for a reason!)
One other thing the author says about this subject. This is in reference to the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector and to whom this parable was addressed according to Luke 18:
9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable.
Of these, Mr. Bailey writes, "Such types, in any age, feel that they have earned God's grace through meritorious works. Their 'self-righteousness' naturally leads them to despise others who do not put forth such efforts." He claims the focus on this parable is not so much humility in prayer, but how we are made right before God.
Now I have to read the rest of this chapter to see what he means! But the above-mentioned things were enough to make me stop and jot a few notes here.
Quotes from pgs. 345 & 346