The Beatitudes and a Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
This makes the fourth post in my series breaking down The Beatitudes. So far, we have discussed that when we recognize our spiritual poverty we are blessed with the Kingdom of God. We’ve also looked at the comfort God has in store for us when we are willing to mourn over the depravity of our own sins. Finally, in last week’s post, I discussed what it means to be meek and despite how powerful we may be, when we allow Jesus to take control of our lives, he blesses us in inheriting the earth.
This week, we will look at what The Beatitudes tell us about hungering and thirsting for righteousness. We will be diving into Matthew 5:6.
The Beatitudes begin taking a shift here with this verse. Jesus’ focus begins shifting from what we feel and think to what we do. I don’t want to give the wrong idea here. Nothing you ever do is going to earn your salvation. We are saved by our faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Nothing more and nothing less. Still, once we have realized how spiritually poor we are, have mourned for our sins, and have surrendered our lives and our will to Jesus, the way we live matters.
When Jesus says “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” He is not referring to those who believe they are going to act or earn their way into heaven. That’s not how salvation works. Very few people hunger and thirst for true righteousness. The majority of us hunger and thirst for whatever will bring us happiness at any given moment. Our focus is on what makes us feel better about ourselves. Not righteousness.
What is righteousness?
Acting right or a right behavior is not the same thing as righteousness. This is why Jesus had so many issues with the Pharisees and religious leaders of His day. Let’s clear something up right now. Righteousness is not acting right. Being righteous means that you have a right standing before God the Father.
If Jesus isn’t your Lord and Savior, this will never happen. You are simply not good enough on your own. The beatitudes are progressive, remember. If it helps, go back and start your thinking once again in seeing yourself as spiritually poor and God as spiritually perfect (1). Mourn for your imperfections (2). Then see your powerful self listening and reacting to everything He says (3). And now you are ready to hunger and thirst for God’s approval (4).
The way we react to circumstances and situations will be different. We no longer feel like we have to be right in everything we do. Instead, demonstrating love becomes the focus. Our interaction with others becomes different. They will no longer be able to recognize us as the person we used to be.
We begin to reflect Jesus more every day. We start to realize that Jesus’ righteousness has been imputed to us. The sin that has dominated us has been imputed to Him while He was hanging on the cross. As a result, we begin living our entire life differently. Through what Jesus has accomplished on the cross, we are able to share in His righteousness.
What does it mean to hunger and thirst?
The more effort you put into feeding something, the more that appetite will grow. Depending on the hunger and thirst you are feeding, this can be either very good or very bad. This is something each of us needs to spend time examining. Do your appetites lead you closer to Jesus or further away from Him?
I’m not saying it is a sin to desire nice things. There is nothing wrong with that at all. But, here’s the thing you want to keep in mind. When you hunger and thirst for the things of this world, are they being used to glorify God or to make much of yourself?
When the focus is me me me, this is where sin gets involved. There is nothing wrong with working hard to earn a nice salary. Nowhere does the Bible say you can’t want a nice home or vehicle. There’s nothing wrong with having nice things. That being said, is pursuing this stuff what drives you? Is the reason you wake up every morning to pursue a feeling from the things of the world that only God can fulfill inside of you?
Remember, Jesus tells us, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” So let me ask you this, where are you looking for satisfaction? What is it that provides you with fulfillment? This is what you are hungering and thirsting over. Is your answer righteousness? Do you hunger to please God?
Here’s a secret few know: Just as your hunger grows for earthly pleasures when you practice pleasing yourself, your desire will grow for righteousness when you practice pleasing God.
Too many of us adults are unsatisfied because we hunger and thirst for worldly possessions instead of a right relationship with our Creator. This is precisely why so many of us are left feeling so empty inside.
We have been successful. We have checked off goals we wanted to accomplish. We studied hard and received the degree. We started out at an entry position and climbed our way up the corporate ladder. We married the person of our dreams and had the children we wanted who have promising futures in front of them.
Still, every night when our head hits the pillow, we catch ourselves asking, “Is this it? Is this really all life is going to be? Wake up, go to work, spend time with family, enjoy a little free time, go to sleep, and then wake up tomorrow and do it all over again? Is this really all my life is ever going to be?”
Ok, maybe the list you have checked off looks different than what I just mentioned. Still, you get what I am aiming at here. Suppose your most significant pursuit in life is anything other than Jesus. In that case, you are never going to succeed, regardless of what you accomplish. You have been created by a loving Creator. Because God made you, in His image, only He can fulfill you.
The people who hunger and thirst for righteousness view God as the supreme means of authentic righteousness. They crave and pursue God's righteous character to be displayed through the lives of His people here on earth. These people will be satisfied by responding to God’s invitation to live in a relationship with Him.
A kingdom-minded person will be pursuing other blessings and benefits from worldly people. They will also live with different attitudes and outlooks. Does your attitude display the self-sacrifice of Jesus, or does it duplicate the pride, lust of power, and selfishness of the world?
Blessed are you when you discover and continue developing a relationship with Jesus Christ. Then and only then will you be truly satisfied.