Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Have you ever been really hungry? I’m not talking about driving home from practice, spotting a McDonald’s, insisting that you are starving, and your mom reminding you that there is food at home (#blessed). I’m talking about polar-expedition, we-can-think-of-nothing-else kind of hunger… Jesus uses the basic instincts of hunger and thirst, which we are all to some degree familiar with, to express the need, the yearning we should have for righteousness.
But this appetite can only come from a very specific constitution. Jesus explains the terms in the preceding verses. Before you can truly crave righteousness, you need to accept, and even welcome, our spiritual bankruptcy. As you come to terms with this, your eyes will open towards your own sin, its consequences, as well as everyone’s communal sin and what we are doing to each other and our world (that used to be so “very good” Genesis 1:31) - and your heart will break.
You will grow less and less insistent on your own way, your own “rights” and slowly you will become a less-selfish, more-serviceable child of God.
Hungry and thirsty for…?
These create the perfect conditions for a hungry, thirsty heart. But what does this type of heart crave? It craves righteousness. Simply put, it makes you want to do the right thing and hate the wrong thing.
These days that’s a hot topic. Who decides what is right and what is wrong? All postmodernists should hold on to their hats - the answer is God. Specifically, “Christ Jesus, whom God made unto us… righteousness.” So not just everyone decides for themselves what is right and wrong, not even if we could all agree on what that is amongst ourselves would it be adequate. Only by looking at and following Jesus can we know what is right and wrong (Acts 1:8, Galatians 3:2).
It is only in believing this that we have any hope to live righteously (Romans 1:17). Our verse could read ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for Jesus’.
What it doesn’t say is ‘Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for happiness’. This is what most people want. They have a ravenous appetite for happiness. They build their lives around finding it, tasting it, lapping up every drop only to be left with ash in their mouths. For a limited time there is pleasure, to be sure, but never satisfaction. The ‘secret’ to happiness is no secret, just an unsatisfactory one: Happiness is a byproduct of righteousness.
A. W. Towzer puts it this way, “The holy man (living righteously)…is most likely a happy man too. If he seeks happiness and forgets holiness, he is a carnal man.” Hopefully, I have proven also that any attempt at personally coming up with definitions and guidelines for holiness, or righteousness, is futile and will also, ultimately, be a huge let-down.
How do we eat?
Firstly, 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable… for instruction in righteousness”. Eat your daily bread! Our example, the epitome of righteousness, said in Matthew 4:4 (quoting from the Old Testament mind you, proving that it really is ALL Scripture) “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” We all have access to the buffet, why aren’t we eating and drinking to our heart’s content?
Secondly, we chew and digest our food properly, slowly, correctly. That is how we should read the Bible, how we should apply it to our lives, how we should use it to guide us - there is a wrong and a right way to go about it. Notice the verbs used (how we should chew and swallow) in 2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
As we do this, we will mature and understand even more. “…for those who through practise have powers of discernment that are trained to distinguish good from evil.” See Hebrews 5:14.
J Oswald Sanders once said “God is presented in Scripture as almost pathetically eager to satisfy the aspirations of the yearning heart” and this is proven in the ‘reward’ promised in our verse.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that happiness/satisfaction is possible through your own pursuit, or that you are wise enough to know what is right or wrong (Proverbs 3:5-6). Stay insatiably hungry and unquenchably thirsty for the ever-willing, omniscient God to show you the way by His Spirit through His Word. Only then can you be Hashtag Blessed!