In our contemporary culture, the word “righteousness” has come to mean “self-righteousness.” In the Bible, however, being “righteous” has a relational quality. It means being presentable; it means being good enough to please. We spend so much of our time working to be presentable, accentuating our best qualities and covering our flaws. Being a Christian means resting in Jesus’ righteousness rather that working harder to improve our own.
Think of righteousness in Christianity like getting a good grade or being a good friend. It means you’re living right, according to God’s standards. Like a knight wears armor, we’re supposed to wear the ‘breastplate of righteousness’. We’re also encouraged to pray for each other, understanding that we all sometimes feel like we’re not good enough for God. This can make us look for approval from people around us. But what’s really important is to trust in the goodness of Jesus Christ, instead of relying on different ideas of what it means to be righteous.