The Breastplate of Righteousness

Tom Bast

READ : Matthew 5:17-20

Stand therefore . . . having put on the breastplate of righteousness. (Eph. 6:14)

I grew up watching baseball in the fifties, when home plate umpires used to have huge black inflatable chest protectors stuck up under their chins for protection against foul balls. Technological advances make it possible today for umpires to wear short-sleeve shirts and form fitting protection that’s hardly noticeable.

Our goal should be to make our righteousness equally unobtrusive and inconspicuous. The Pharisees loved to make a big deal of theirs, claiming the best seats in the synagogues and announcing their charitable donations with great fanfare. They were roundly denounced by Jesus for such hypocritical outward shows. His followers, he said, must “exceed” such visible displays and do their good works in secret so that their Father, who sees in secret, might reward them openly.

But we should be alert to an even deeper truth. The real breastplate—which protects our heart, the center of our personhood in biblical physiology—is not our righteousness but God’s. It is “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” by which we are justified in God’s sight (Rom. 3:22). Remember, we put on “the whole armor of God.” All of our armor is God’s armor, not our own, and it is Christ’s own righteousness that covers us and affords us this crucial protection. What a comfort it is to know that our core defense lies not with us but with God our Savior.

PRAYER

Thank you, Lord, that Christ’s righteousness becomes our own.