“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
(Matthew 5:6 ESV)
Jesus tells us that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied and then happy (filled, blessed). Because this verse is one out of thousands of verses in the bible we need to be reminded that Jesus was clear on how this righteousness is accomplished, received and maintained. The very fact that anyone would truly seek the righteousness of God shows that they have realized their spiritual bankruptcy and need for a Savior, Jesus, who has lived a righteous life and shed his blood in their place and will sustain them forever.
Jesus does not teach us to hunger and thirst for "some" righteousness but for righteousness. He is not offering a piece of bread for our hungry souls but all the bread in the world. He is not teaching that he will give us some spiritual help and get our accounts off to a good start and then we then manage it from there. He is offering His full account. His righteousness. This causes the needy sinner to begin to have an unstoppable ambition to know this Jesus, to have him, to feast and drink of him. The repentant sinner knows that they must have all of Jesus. They know that by only wanting some of Jesus they are hungering and thirsting for someone or something else to satisfy along with Jesus, and they are aware this cannot be. They depend on his righteous life lived on earth and his merciful forgiveness through his death. Their appetite is one in which mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus are the flavors and substance of authentic life and real righteousness that satisfies every spiritual taste bud.
Jesus does not teach us here, or anywhere else in all of the bible, that we can earn this. But we can hunger and thirst for it. This hungering is a work of the Spirit of God as he convicts us of all our self-worship and wickedness by showing us that we are eating rotten food and drinking contaminated water that is wrapped up in deceptively beautiful packaging. He points to Jesus and exposes real substance that can only be had by faith and repentance (poor in spirit, mourning sin, trusting in God with all of your life/meekness). This is an eating that takes place through faith and repentance. We are constantly running to people and things that cannot ever satisfy nor support our hunger and thirst...even the good gifts from God.
Jesus is telling us to hunger and thirst for being right with God. He knows he is the one who will secure this feast and maintain it for us eternally. As he is preaching and teaching he is living the daily life with perfection for us as he takes daily steps, with joy, to the cross set before him to earn eternal life for us. Grace!
We are not called to happiness by Jesus here, but to righteousness. Our hunger and thirst are not to be primarily of earthly relief from the pains of life. They are to be for the righteousness of God. We are to be intensely aware of our waywardness and the depths of our sins, to see our need for a Savior. We are to long for a substitute who loves us, to have a master and king who is a good shepherd. May our greatest ambition, desire, hunger, thirst, and drive be to be made right with God, to become his children, and this by simply renouncing all other foods and drinks as we eat and drink of Jesus . Then happiness, or better yet joy, comes even in the midst of unrelieved suffering.
Jesus gives us his righteousness and justifies us. But he also continues to help us live our lives out of this justification as he sanctifies us. As believers we are full, yet know we are lovingly called to keep on eating.
Hungering and thirsting for the righteousness of God is not a one-time thing, thought or event. It is not a decision primarily, but an ambition to live for the glory of God and his righteousness. It is the way of life for the believer.
We are to take the Bread and Water of Life to all the world, yet we cannot eat it for them. Mothers and fathers, pray for your children's appetites, that they would hunger for Jesus. Preacher and teacher, provide access to the table every time you teach. Your eating alone is not enough for the flock. Student, yes, live your life as Christ would have you live in front of your friends and teachers, but speak of the reason for your hope and joy... the gospel. No amount of your eating can save their souls. However, as you eat, live satisfied and point to Jesus. The poisonous food and water of the world will at least be exposed by the light of Christ in your life.
May God show us our need(s) as his children. May God help those of you who do not yet know and love him to see your need for him and be driven to the table to be satisfied.
(Doctored up Picture) I found this on-line. It is to show us that certain eating habits are not right or healthy and will lead to death.