The book of Ecclesiastes 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.
A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.