The Samaritans were despised by the Jews as a mixed-race, mixed-religion people. The very word "Samaritan" conjured up in the Jewish mind everything they considered to be abhorrent to God; unlike themselves, whom they (rightly) considered to be God's treasured people. However, they saw themselves as righteous and the Samaritans as unrighteous, just by virtue of birth.
However, measured against God’s standard of righteousness, every person ever conceived stands condemned. Nobody can have genuine, authentic, righteousness without having God’s nature, for he alone is sinless.
But God understands our failure and has provided His own true righteousness, His perfect righteousness, in place of the righteousness you and I do not have. It is given to us freely, without contribution on our part, as we have faith in Jesus Christ. This is called justification, which means that we are now “made right” or “just” before God on the basis of Jesus’ achievements.
Once righteousness has been received into your inward being through the indwelling Holy Spirit, then your character traits and outward behavior can’t help but change to reflect the profound spiritual change you’ve undergone.
Righteousness does also refer to “upright moral conduct,” in keeping with God’s standard set down in His law. Certainly your and my testimony to the reality of God’s goodness and righteousness to the people around us would have little effectiveness if our conduct and our character were not also morally upright.
But to live morally is not just about outward moral behavior. Our confession that Jesus is Lord, and that God raised Him from the dead is going to be more than what we say. To live morally, according to God’s way, is to actively enrich the lives of the people around you.
According to this standard, the Samaritan woman was the most righteous person there, and her townspeople were also learning true righteousness at Jesus' feet.
* A righteous person lives in humility, submitting her life to God, inviting the Holy Spirit to control her thoughts, her feelings and thereby her words and actions.
* A righteous person, in submission to God, understands her complete and utter dependence on Him for the course of her life, the course of her day-to-day living, and sees the hand of God in all the events and people in her life.
* A righteous person’s words naturally glorify God and build up the people who listen. Her words come out of the overflow of her heart, filled with God’s righteousness.
All passages taken from the New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.