I’ve shared in past blog posts that fall is my all-time favorite season of the year! During fall there are so many unique traditions that are shared many of which are so popular they have seeped beyond the confines of fall. One particular guilty pleasure of mine is caramel apples. When coupling those sweet, rich dipped surfaces with a bitter, sharp green apple core it is a combination that is impossible to resist.
Recently, a trip through the grocery store in the fresh produce aisle revealed an abundance of caramel apple options! I mean the combinations seemed endless! From various nutty crusts, to chocolate drizzle, even sliced strawberries; cartons upon cartons of tempting dessert fruit!! It is funny in our life the various toppings we can mound on our outward lives; our profession, our friends, our family, and our personal achievements.
To the world we can present a front that is sweet, successful, even tempting for others…yet that is all it proves to be, an appearance of sweetness, lacking in any true meaningful substance.
The world today asks continuously:
- How will our toppings stand out from the rest?
- What other toppings can we keep adding on?
- Does the toppings we have attract what WE want?
The world’s perspective is focused on competition, achievement, and self-interest. Frankly, it can be exhausting when we choose to structure our lives around those standards (I’m as guilty as the next one in getting caught up in the temporal, short-term interests that leave much to be desired…)
Yet, it does not have to be this way. Our toppings (and core) can be something all together fulfilling, joyous, and good. Scripture points to clothing (topping) our lives and spirits in something so different -> Righteousness
Righteousness has a bad rap in the English language. It conjures up images of people seen as “holier then though” or “aloof individuals”. Yet, if we dig into the root meaning of the greek translated as dikaiosune it reveals an entirely different understanding.
It is defined as a state of being acceptable to God, which produces correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting.
What is powerful about the definition above when looking into passages of scripture is that we are gifted righteousness. It is not something we can gain for ourselves, alone…it is a topping and covering that reflects a deeper core and relationship with God. Here are a few encouraging passages:
2nd Corinthian 6:7 – By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
Ephesians 6:14 – Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
Philippians 1:11 – Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 3:9 – And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
1 Timothy 6:11 – But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
These and many more passages point to our desperate need to submit our lives wholly to Christ. When we do so, we are clothed in righteousness not for our own benefit, for the mission to serve those around us.
The fruits of righteousness refereed to in Philippians manifest fully when we are submitted to Christ. We live not for appearances, but for others, expecting nothing because we did nothing (and could do nothing) deserving of the righteousness shown to us.
Those fruits include as Galatians 5:22-23 list: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control! This is what Christ wants us to give back to the world; through our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Through Christ we can serve others, love others in a way that is unfamiliar to the world. As educators we can find restoration, hope, and deep fulfillment even in the hardest moments, when we allow ourselves to be clothed in righteousness for our daily work with our young people.
The evidence and purpose of our lives are not for the world, but for the God who saved us. Let us reject the false toppings that distract from the ultimate toppings so freely given!
Yet, what is awesome about this life, is that while serving others, we can enjoy a delicious caramel apple together!!
Take care friends and have a great week!