We know the word "righteous" means to be just or morally right. And insofar as translation is concerned, this word accurately represents the meaning of the Greek work originally used in the New Testament. We understand that we are righteous because God has forgiven us on the basis of our faith and not because we are morally good and deserving.
But, when all that is said and we've read several illustrations of the use of righteous or righteousness in the Bible and out, we are (or at least I am) still a bit unsure how to go about being righteous. Of course, I can make a list of "dos" and another of "don'ts" but first that seems Pharisaical and then I still feel somewhat empty and lacking. Righteousness is a character trait, not just an action.
Somewhere, in a commentary long since forgotten, I read that the English "righteous" came from "rightwise" and thus "righteousness" is "rightwiseness." I just now confirmed this by several dictionaries online. We know what "clockwise" means even though we sometimes turn the screw the wrong way and loosen when we meant to tighten. "Clockwise" is the way a clock's hands move. "Rightwise", then, is the way "right" turns. A person who has set his heart to be "rightwise" may get some things on THE LIST wrong, but when he discovers it he will turn the "rightwise" direction instead of being "counter-rightwise."
A person who turns his heart "counter-rightwise" too far, or especially if he obstinately ignores the loosening that is happening in his morality, will soon have his heart come apart and fall in pieces, coming under Peter's condemnation, "Cannot cease from sin." (2Pet2:14). It is no accident that righteousness is often set in contrast with lawlessness which is "wrongwiseness."
Be sure you are turning your heart "rightwise." God is more concerned that your heart is set "rightwise" than He is in how many things you get right on THE LIST.
“You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions.” (Heb 1:9).
For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. (Rom 6:19).