Why We Shouldn’t Be Overrighteous

Why We Shouldn’t Be Overrighteous

The book of Ecclesiastes (in the Bible) is an example of wisdom literature, and it makes for an interesting read. At one point the author says, “Do not be overrighteous.”

Overrighteous is a curious word. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it before, and I certainly don’t remember seeing it in the Bible. In fact, it only appears in this one verse in the Bible.

What does it mean to be overrighteous?

Since righteous means to be morally upright or virtuous, it seems overrighteous is just more of the same, that we can’t be too righteous.

Apparently, we can.

The dictionary says overrighteous means to be “Excessively righteous; usually implying hypocrisy.” Ouch! No one wants that.

Continuing on, the verse asks, “Why destroy yourself?”

So, overrighteous implies hypocrisy and causes personal destruction.

Being righteous is worth pursuing; being overrighteous should be avoided.

[Ecclesiastes 7:16]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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