The plea for righteousness is an essential theme in the Bible. The word righteousness is not something we use in everyday speech, so it has lost some of its flavor.
“Righteousness” is a translation of the Greek word dikaiosyne. It is also translated “justice”. Plato’s Republic focuses on the meaning of dikaiosyne. The dialogue concludes that dikaiosyne occurs when a group of people serve one another to the maximum benefit of all. Not because they are compelled, but because they choose to do so.
Dikaiosyne is teamwork. When a group of talented people all choose to use their gifts to play their position to their utmost ability, they are practicing dikaiosyne. Righteousness is a beneficial harmony that we choose.
Another English word we use to translate dikaiosyne is “justice”. Justice in English means to ” line up with a standard”. Like “right justify” lines up with a right margin.
The Biblical standard of justice or righteousness is unity. But not unity for the sake of unity. People can unify around evil. True righteousness is when each of us chooses to do what we do best to benefit others. To serve. To love.
Righteousness is choosing to serve others, to seek their best interest by living and speaking the truth. When we choose this perspective, listen to God and act accordingly, we are following this admonition. Righteousness is living in a manner that serves others. We either do it, and in so doing follow Jesus’ example, or we don’t. It is not about talk. We can deceive with claims. But true righteousness is following the Way in our daily lives.