As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13, NRSV)
Jesus did not come to call the righteous but sinners, for the healthy have no need of a hospital or a doctor.
So then the righteous are those who are already in right with God.
I like to think of it as the righteous are those who think they know what God wants and are doing it and therefore don’t need God. Sinners are those who know they have messed up and know they can’t fix it on their own. They need help.
Until we admit we need help, there is no helping us.
So are you righteous or a sinner?