Hunger & Thirst for Righteousness
Many think that if they had abundant wealth, absence of regret and suffering, excellent health, good employment, unending gratification of their desires, and kind treatment of everyone, that this would mean they are blessed. But in the Beatitudes (literally, the blessings), Jesus turns this kind of thinking upside down. In this passage (Matthew 5:3-12), Jesus sets forth characteristics of the ideal person of His kingdom: being poor, mourning, humility, hunger, thirst, rejection, and persecution; all qualities that were present in perfection in the life and character of the Man who spoke them. Through these experiences, Jesus says that the disciple would be blessed. Now, to be blessed is much more than just being happy. To be blessed means that we receive God’s favor. We receive his endorsement and approval.
For the purpose of this devotional, it is not possible to go through each beatitude in detail. But, I believe there is one that we as men can be challenged by and one that we should spend time thinking about. In verse 6, Jesus speaks these words, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Hunger and thirst represent the deepest desires we have. So, what is your deepest desire? What do you hunger and thirst for? Is it control? Maybe it’s comfort? Or perhaps, the thing you hunger and thirst for is significance? But here’s the thing, none of these things bring blessings to our lives. We are blessed when we hunger and thirst for righteousness. Righteousness is being a man of high integrity and strong character. It is living an upright lifestyle and having the right behavior before God.
R. T. Kendall writes that the righteousness Jesus had in mind is an unpretentious righteousness where there is an absence of smugness, arrogance and haughtiness. There is no effort to try to impress others. This kind of righteousness is an unappreciated righteousness and goes against our desires to seek approval from others and live for the approval of God. When our greatest desire is to live for the approval of God, living like this: hungry and thirsting for righteousness only, it is not likely to be appreciated by anybody but God. Jesus blesses those who are hungry for a righteousness that will be unappreciated in this life. So, don’t expect people to clap their hands for you. Because you see, the most righteous person who ever lived was hated. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first,” said Jesus (John 15:18).
This Week’s Challenge: Complete the following statement: “My deepest desire; the thing that I hunger and thirst for is ____________________.” Does this make you feel blessed our stressed? What steps are you going to take this week to pursue God? Who do you have in your life to hold you accountable in your pursuit of God?
"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God," (Psalm 42:1-2a).