Contrary to the way the world thinks and works, we find God thinking and working differently in the Bible. I don’t know the history of your life and neither do you know mine, so let me say that I have never been hungry and thirsty in my life! Yes I have been hungry for the next meal. Yes I have been thirsty during a 56 kilometer race when the water tables are 5 kilometers apart and after 40 kilometers the terrane changes from undulating to serious up hill climbs. But I can never say I have been hungry and thirsty because I have not eaten or had liquid intake for days. So, in a way I cannot say I truly understand real hunger or thirst. Now we come to the fourth Beatitude in Matthew chapter 5:
Mt 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Now remember, poor in spirit speaks of spiritual bankruptcy (Beatitude 1), mourning addresses the reality of awful embarrassment before God because of our sin (Beatitude 2) and meek relates to one’s spiritual character of godliness (Beatitude 3). Now the outworking of that character is demonstrated in the fourth Beatitude … “hunger and thirst for righteousness”. Do remember that each time Jesus uses the word “blessed”, He is happy with the transformation in the believer so that He congratulates real, genuine spiritual maturity.
1) Hunger and Thirst. The words used in the Greek give us some help.
(a) To hunger means to “crave ardently”. That is, to seek for food to sustain the body and satisfy the hunger with an intense and eager desire. It is to actively do something about your lack of food.
(b) To thirst means to suffer from thirst or to suffer for thirst. It is an eager longing to quench the thirst. I am reminded of the apostle Paul speaking of sleepless nights and hunger (2 Corinthians 6:5) and “I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food” (2 Corinthians 11:27). This concept becomes more serious when we realize there are places on the planet where the desert terrane does not permit agriculture and animal farming is kept to the minimum because of the scarcity of water. These people know what it is to be hungry and thirsty. You and I can’t imagine what it’s like because we have not been there.
2) Hunger and thirst for righteousness. Suddenly we realize Jesus is addressing the spiritual and not the physical! The “salvation by works” religion of the Jews resulted in an orthodoxy that was spiritually dead and meaningless. It’s one thing to know the Ten Commandments by heart and bring animals to be slaughtered as substitutes for your sin … but when there is no heart religion there is no faith. Religion is dead. This easily happens today! Go through catechism class, answer all the right questions, become a Church member and bring a tithe … and the feeling could be … “I’m a Christian”. Yet there is no heart religion and you are a stranger to God. God wants people to worship Him in “spirit and truth”. This means to know Him personally through His precious Son, Jesus Christ! It is then that one grasps two important aspects to righteousness.
(a) The first is our positional righteousness in Jesus. Legally the Father see us as He sees Jesus because through faith, Jesus’ righteousness is credited to the believer’s account.
(b) The second is our lack of practical righteousness. The term “righteousness” addresses one’s integrity, virtue, purity of life, uprightness, correctness in one’s feelings, thinking and doing. The Christian needs to understand that being a Christian means transformation! Paul puts it like this:
Ro 6:11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
Right here you find a radical statement … he says to us Christians … do not … verses 12-13a … because you are now under grace … offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness (v13b). Later on in verse 18 he reminds us … You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
3) Hungering and thirsting for righteousness. By now we understand that those who are spiritually poor, who mourn over their decrepit sinful state are those who dress themselves with spiritual meekness because they hunger and thirst for practical righteousness. There is a craving for Christlikeness. The passion is to honor God through a life of likeness to Jesus.
(i) There is a longing for God. The Psalmist shows us what that means
Ps 63:1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Notice how he speaks of the spiritual (soul) and body (physical) aspects of his being. The body that desires sin, is motivated by the soul towards obedience (righteousness). The word “earnestly” is powerful because it is God he earnestly seeks. As he gazed over the land, he saw the lack of water and vegetation. Then he considers his soul and finds a spiritual baroness. He is in a spiritual desert. He wants and needs spiritual refreshment from God. That is what he seeks. Are you praying like this for a real spiritual revival that affects and influences your soul and body?
(ii) God is the glorious provider. Isaiah shows us the faithfulness of God as He responds to the pleading of His children for spiritual refreshment.
Isa 49:10 They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.
This relates to living for Jesus on earth. Seek spiritual refreshment and He provides. That is the promise of this beatitude … “they will be filled”.
4) Hungering and thirsting have eternal results. When we are actively fulfilling the requirements of this Beatitude, God assures us of eternal bliss
Rev 7:16 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
Earth is a preparation for believers for heaven!
5) How do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? You need a good Bible Reading Plan, Daily Devotions, Daily Prayer, Reading Christian Material and being part of a Reformed and Evangelical Ministry.
O God grant me a passionate desire for righteousness to honor the Lord Jesus because of Calvary. Amen.