I’ve been thinking about this fourth beatitude, hungering and thirsting after righteousness.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,Matthew 5:6
for they shall be satisfied.
I rarely experience hunger. Seriously, when was the last time you went without food long enough for your stomach to growl, to feel weak, lacking energy, lacking focus, truly being hungry? I can’t think of a time.
Thirsty may be another story. Some statistics suggest that as many as 75% of us are chronically dehydrated. We may drink liquid often but we take in too much caffeine and/or salt. So our bodies are not well hydrated. I love hot tea, and often have a cup nearby. But I realize that’s not enough. Sometimes I set aside 8 to 10 cups of water in the morning — waiting for me on the counter so that I have a visual reminder to take in more water.
And so when we come to this attribute of God’s kingdom we may be mystified. Our spiritual bodies may not recognize hunger or thirst!
If we are hungering and thirsting, we have an alarming need for nourishment. We have a sense we may perish if we are not fed soon. And so it should be for those of us being formed in the image of Jesus – our desire for His righteousness to so shape and form our lives should be urgent, pressing.
You, God, are my God,Psalm 63:1
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
Jesus teaches that the greatest commandment instructs us to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. These are not necessarily four distinct elements of our being but instead represent the totality of who we are. If we are hungering and thirsting for Him we are putting our whole selves into knowing Him.
In His sermon on the mount, Jesus also instructs us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. I have always focused on the first part – seek first His kingdom – but I have often stopped there. Notice, we also seek His righteousness. That verb, seek, indicates continual, constant action. We keep on seeking!
Open up, O heavens,Isaiah 45:8 NLT
and pour out your righteousness.
Let the earth open wide
so salvation and righteousness
can sprout up together.
I, the Lord, created them.
God’s sovereign rule is defined by His righteousness. Jesus is the fulfillment of all righteousness. We receive the gift of righteousness through faith in Jesus. If we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we will be filled! And in being filled, we find our rest in Him. But that’s not all! Because of righteousness, we pursue justice.
“For the time is coming,”Jeremiah 23:5 -6a
says the Lord,
“when I will raise up a righteous descendant
from King David’s line.
He will be a King who rules with wisdom.
He will do what is just and right throughout the land.
And this will be his name:
‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’
Justice is neither a left nor right political issue. Justice is a righteousness issue. Living a righteous life spills over into our interactions with the world. We are invested in our world, we want it to flourish, we want the people in our sphere of influence to flourish.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;Psalm 17:15 ESV
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
In righteousness we seek the face of God. We imitate Him. We submit to the work of the Spirit in developing in us patience, perseverance, faith, and joy. At the same time we pursue justice for the oppressed, the widow, orphan, homeless, and disabled. These are not opposites – they are interwoven. In working out our salvation we join with believers and nonbelievers to address the evils of our day, caring for creation, and to cultivate our society so that it thrives! In this way we are the hands and feet of Jesus in serving our community, our cities.
A righteous person takes up the cause of the oppressedJonathan Dodson, Our Good Crisis, pg. 84
and contends for justice.
Hungering and thirsting after righteousness is not only an individual pursuit. Yes, we have to consider for ourselves what we need to do to prime our appetite. We may need to develop new habits. We may need to adjust our diets – what we read, watch, listen to. But we also need to immerse ourselves in the church! It’s the body of Christ. It’s the avenue through which the gifts of the Spirit are poured out for edifying and building up each member. It’s where by loving one another we announce to the world that we are His disciples and that Jesus is truly the son of God.
Thinking about the need to experience hunger as I wrap up this post!
Lord, increase my appetite to know you, to love you, to serve you!
Reveal my self-righteousness, forgive me, and teach me how reckon myself dead to sin and alive to You alone!
And may I find my satisfaction in no other pursuit than the pursuit of your kingdom and righteousness!
Dodson, J. K. (2020). Our good crisis: Overcoming moral chaos with the Beatitudes. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, an imprint of InterVarsity Press.