Righteous is a word you don’t really hear anymore. It sounds very archaic and conjures up images of a Puritan in stockings and a wig. To others it reminds them of outdated slang flowing from the mouth of a long haired hippie in the Haight Ashbury area of San Francisco in the late 1960’s. The word makes us think of someone who is goody two shoes and anal at best. The reason why this word provokes these things is because for the most part it is an old and outdated concept. Something that is ancient and out of step with contemporary times. Which means it may need some updating. Before we can do that we need to dig deeper into the ancient meaning for righteous.
In the ancient Near Eastern world the word righteous meant to be “in the right” because you “do what is right.” It was a term bestowed on a person who had a just cause and lived a just life before God. This person would be vindicated by God and shown justice in this life and in the afterlife. This is what it meant to be righteous in the ancient world. The only thing is that this produced two dilemmas. The first dilemma is that because of our brokenness and weakness as humans we don’t “do what is right” or even know how to “do what is right” all the time. The second dilemma is that if we don’t “do what is right” how can we be “in the right” and be vindicated by God.
Let’s fast forward to the 21st century. Being righteous is about being the kind of person who does the right things for the right reasons at the right times. It is about alignment with all the relationships in your life. Doing what is right by God and by others. This seems simple but just like the ancients struggled with “doing what is right” we also face the same struggle. The good news is there was this guy named Jesus who not only showed us how to “do what is right” but has promised to empower us to “do what is right.” And in the event that we fail he can make us right through transferring his righteousness to us. That’s the only way we can be “in the right” and live the life we are supposed to live with him forever. –Ramon Mayo