Written Word

The Beatitudes – Part 5: Those Who Hunger and Thirst

To hunger and thirst after righteousness is far more than desiring to be good. A pagan can desire to be good, to be a caring, to look out for others, but Jesus disciples hunger and thirst after righteousness. The righteousness we pursue is not the legalistic righteousness produced in the life of some Pharisees. Jesus had no time for that and exposed those who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else (Luke 18:9). What then is it that Jesus wants from his disciples He says, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20) Are we to out-perform the Pharisees by doing more than they do? No. If we were to do that we would produce the type of legalistic righteousness Jesus condemns.

Hunger and thirst is something we all experience. The craving for food and drink can be so intense that even a lazy person will get out of bed to feed himself. Hunger demands to be satisfied. Jesus compared doing of the will of God to craving food and drink. Urged by his disciples to eat, he said, “‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’ The disciples were confused by his remark. Jesus explained, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.'” (John 4:32-34. Doing the will of the Father was food and drink to Jesus. Peter continues the same theme: “Like newborn babies,” he says, “crave spiritual milk, so that you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2-3) Craving the will of God is to hunger and thirst after righteousness.

A spiritual appetite for righteousness must be cultivated. Not only must we desire to do what is right, we must also hate everything that is wrong. For example, do we recoil at vulgarity, rude jokes, racist comments, comedy that presents immoral living as the acceptable norm? Are we offended by the sheer evil we see and hear around us? Do we find ourselves wanting to distance ourselves from it? Our responses to these questions tell us much about the state of our spiritual appetite. Lot is a man from whom we can learn much. We are told that he was “a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)”. (2 Peter 2:7-8) The distress Lot experienced and his disdain for the filthy lives of lawless men reflect his spiritual maturity; he had grown to love God’s will by having continually hungered and thirsted after righteousness.

They Will Be Filled

Our spiritual appetite will never be fully satisfied until we are united with the Lord in heaven. In the meantime, we can be filled with the blessings of God by doing his will. Our attitude must resemble that of the psalmist who said, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2) Doing the will of God fills our hearts with joy knowing that our obedience pleases him. Then there are those rich moments when we long for a closer relationship with God, desiring to know him better (Ephesians 1:18). As a result, we are “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy”. (1 Peter 1:8) Desiring to know God and to do his will is to hunger and thirst after righteousness. The result is that we will be filled.