Lloyd-Jones talks about this subject in his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount and he discusses whether there will be persecution for being good and noble, since they are similar to righteousness.
It is interesting that these are pretty similar, but when you think about it, being noble and good on earth is generally rewarded but righteousness is not. Rom. 5:7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die.
Even as far back as Abel, living righteously has been met with persecution. Lloyd-Jones mentions Moses, David, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos and Daniel in the OT and many of the disciples in the NT. And of course Jesus told His disciples that if they persecuted Him, for sure they were going to persecute His followers.
It is also interesting that it is not often that the persecution of the righteous comes from the world, but more times than not it comes from those who are supposed to be living righteously in the first place; the religious. In Jesus' day almost all of His persecution came from the "religious elite", not from "tax-collectors and sinners".
The world knows, for the most part, that it is going against God; all of creation cries out against their wickedness. The religious know they are supposed to be living righteously and when one or two are living righteously and many others are not this makes the majority look bad. This is where the persecution took place in Jesus' day and this is where it may take place for us as well. Matt. 23:27-36.
We are to be salt and light to the world and live holy lives, set apart unto God, and this is going to bring persecution; sometimes from out side the "church" and sometimes from inside. Regardless where it comes from, we should expect it and when it comes we should be ready to receive it with grace, as this is a sign of our following the Master. This is a sign of true Christianity.