Righteousness is one of those words that immediately sounds "churchy". It is assumed that if you're talking about being righteous then you must be the religious and judgmental sort. Immediately those who are concerned with being politically correct make a face akin to eating a Sour Patch Kid.
The word righteousness assumes that there is only one right way of doing things. If there is only one right way then it follows that all other ways are wrong. Well, lots of people are following those wrong ways and don't want to be told they are wrong. They want moral equivalency where everyone can do and think as they please. Righteousness is a slap in the face to that way of living.
A by-the-book definition of righteousness says that it is, "behavior that is morally justifiable or right." That is a broad definition of a word that, at its root, was never intended to be that far reaching. The Greek root was much more precise: what is deemed right by God. Righteousness is not a matter of opinion or personal preference. God has established what is right. He alone is the author of righteousness.
So it would be natural to ask the question, so how does God define righteousness? Whether or not it is a popular concept, righteousness is not a human creation. It is God ordained and God designed. to understand God's meaning and intent for righteousness we must look to His Word and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Beginning in the very first book of the Bible God begins explaining and showing what true righteousness is all about. He showed us through Joseph and Moses. Although they weren't perfect, far from it, they sought God's guidance and His forgiveness when they acted disobediently. Daniel was a picture of that same hunger and thirst for more of God, the creator and author of righteousness.
But all of these men fell short. They were imperfect pictures of living a Godly life. It is only Jesus Christ who could show us true righteousness and provide a way for us to live in His footsteps.
Many religions look at Jesus as a nice example, a friendly, kind, upright man who is to be admired. But the Bible makes it clear that He is infinitely more than a good example. Jesus is our salvation, our only redemption from unrighteousness, our only path way to justification. Jesus not only shows us how to live but He makes it possible for us to live according to the righteousness as it is defined by God. Through His sacrifice as the perfect Son of God He made our justification possible. It is only a perfect lamb that could save such a fallen, unrighteousness, sinful people. And that lamb is Jesus.
Only Jesus is perfect in righteousness. To be found righteous in the eyes of God we must be one with Jesus. We must die to self and be hidden in Christ to be hidden in His righteousness and His justice. Trying to do the right thing and live "morally" isn't enough. We will always fall short and we will never reach perfection. Our hope is found in the saving grace of Jesus who is perfect, spotless, blameless and always righteous. When we come to know the salvation of Jesus Christ then our eyes are opened to the wickedness of our hearts and the depravity of our morality. Compared to Jesus we are terrible, wretched and sinful. We need to be cleansed by His redeeming blood so that we can be showered in His righteousness and true morality.
As the song goes, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly trust in Jesus name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."
Our hope, our morality and our righteousness is not found in our own goodness or our own human striving. It is found in Christ alone where true righteousness has been bought with the blood of our perfect Savior.