Righteousness and justice are two Biblical concepts that belong together. To separate righteousness from justice is to separate being from doing, faith from works, and love for God from love for neighbor. The call to follow Jesus is a call to bring the whole of our lives under the Lordship of Christ through personal integrity and sacrificial service.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus described his followers as those who would change the world by integrity and service (Matthew 5:1-16). They are the pure in heart that recognize their own inadequacies, mourn the devastating consequences of evil, and hunger and thirst for righteousness (integrity). They are also those who show mercy, make peace, suffer persecution, and do good works that bring honor to their Father in heaven (service).
Because of their righteous character, they are the salt of the earth. They have the capacity to influence nations and change the world (Matthew 5:13). Because of their service, they are the light of the world. They exert their influence by doing good works that bring praise to their Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16). They reveal God’s glory to the nations by their just and compassionate action.
Jesus declares that those who live in this way are blessed, that those who live under God’s rule also enjoy God’s blessings. We want to be those people.