“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. – Matthew 5:6
Jesus’ lays before us the next earmark of a citizen of His kingdom, and it’s all about our appetite.
Let’s start with a definition of hunger.
I walked into the house after a long day at the office, and I was starving. I had not had a bite to eat since – oh – it had to be like two hours!!!!! Can you imagine my hunger? Two whole hours without food! I was starving. And when I found that dinner was not on the table, well you can just imagine the ruckus that ensued.
OK, that was a bit of fiction. But I bet you have been there.
This is not that hunger.
When a person feels real hunger, all other priorities and passions pale. Hunger doesn’t start in the brain, it emanates from one’s innermost parts. It’s not about thoughts and wishes, it’s a primal need. Their whole body demands food.
And what of thirst? It’s worse!
Where does this primal need for righteousness come from? I never had such a longing as a natural man. As a natural man, no desire for goodness stirred my soul.
Paul talks about this some in Romans 6
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. – Romans 6:20-22
This hunger and thirst after righteousness is a direct result of regeneration. Before you knew God, you had no desire to walk right before Him. The only righteousness you may have desired had to do with people treating you right. I wanted those in my circle to treat me well, to tell me the truth, to treat me with respect, but that was the extent of my hunger for the right.
But now, walking this path of blessing…
I see my inner poverty and my need for God.
I see my sin and it breaks my heart, so I cry out for His mercy.
I submit my will to His, setting His priorities above my own.
A hunger and thirst rise up within me for His righteousness to manifest in my life.
The next step in God’s 8 step program is to pursue righteousness with the same intensity as a hungry man pursues food, or as one who is parched goes after water. Hear this. It does not promise this blessed life to someone who tries to be good, who pulls themselves up by their bootstraps, who just grits their teeth and does what is right.
What if we actually pursued righteousness, sought after it like hidden treasure. What if we searched for opportunities to increase righteousness as though it was good for us–as if it was to our advantage–oh, and just for the record it is to our advantage. What if we pursued it as if it was the only thing that mattered, like a man starving to death goes after nourishment.
I am not talking about some strange self-righteousness that makes us feel superior. No way! But how about taking your honesty to a new level, or how about the way you do your job, or your homework, or your chores, or duties–all of it. The mark of a Christian in the workplace should be unimpeachable integrity. I promise if you will quiet your spirit for a while and mull this over the Lord will show you places to find more opportunities to do right.
What may not be entirely obvious is that as we take our righteousness to the next level, we take our joy to the next level as well.
This passion for righteousness nets us a life of joy. The Word tells us this about the life of Jesus:
“YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS; THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS.” – Hebrews 1:9
for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 14:17
No man ever walked in the Spirit to a greater measure than Jesus. Righteousness works itself out in peace and joy. The worst turmoil in life comes when you walk away from righteousness. Covering up sin, or walking the edge between good and bad deals death to all joy and peace. When you are seeking after righteousness, shame, guilt and fear leave and peace and joy remain.
Jesus is our righteousness. (1 Corinthians 1:30) Simply put, to hunger after righteousness is to hunger for more Jesus in your life. As we embrace Jesus, His ways, His priorities in our lives, we will walk in this peace and joy. We must put on Christ, and search for His presence in our lives as though our lives depended on it. You will never regret it!
Let’s ask the Father this question: Where have you hidden opportunities for integrity in my life?
Don’t miss the promise for this one!
See you next week.