Righteousness (dik-eye-oh-sue-nay) is one of those tricky words that we use all the time in our Christian circles, but generally never use in everyday conversation. We sort of know what it means, and usually think of it as a kind of holiness, but with a now / not-yet application to our life. But sometimes our familiarity with theological terms has a way of distancing us from their practical implications, partly because we do not hear these words used in common language.
It turns out that the ancient Greeks used this word in their literature the way we use the word "virtue." Dallas Willard said that the term carries the idea of the ability to both know and do the right thing. So what would happen if we substituted these thoughts for the word "righteousness" in some of our familiar verses?
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in virtue and the ability to know and do the right things (2Tim.3:16).
Blessed or those who hunger and thirst for the ability to know and do what is right (Mt.5:6).
But seek first His kingdom and His level of virtue, and all these things will be added to you (Mt.6:33).
Not having virtue of my own derived from trying to keep the Law, but a virtue which comes through faith in Christ, the ability to know and do what is right which comes from God on the basis of faith (Phil.3:9).
For me, such connotations help these verses come alive and feel much more relevant. And while a direct translation like this may not make sense in every instance, it does help to broaden my sense of what this word is attempting to capture in its various contexts. As a result, I feel an even greater desire to be mentored by God in His way of doing good.