by Mark Altrogge
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6
There is a progression in the beatitudes. We acknowledge our spiritual poverty before God which leads us to mourn our sin which produces humility of heart. Then we begin to hunger and thirst for a righteousness outside ourselves – the very righteousness of God.
Righteousness has to do with relationship. God, in his relationship to us always does everything perfectly right: he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. PS 9:8
We’re not righteous in our relationship to God: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12. We may think we aren’t that bad, but in God’s sight, We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment… Isaiah 64:6
When we compare ourselves with others, we don’t seem that bad, but when we get a glimpse of God’s holiness we’re laid low like Isaiah: And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Isaiah 6:6
One Halloween when I was a teenager, my neighbor answered the door in her costume wearing white pancake makeup. I’d always thought her teeth were white, but when she smiled, compared to the white makeup, her teeth were three shades of yellow! When we compare our righteousness to God’s, ours is filthy.
HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS
Hunger and thirst are intense desires. When the Holy Spirit begins to work in us he causes us to hate sin and long to be pure in God’s sight. Years ago I went three days without food or drink. All I could think about was my thirst. I was consumed by it. It was the most intense desire I’d ever had.
THEY SHALL BE SATISFIED
We receive God’s righteousness as a gift when we trust in Jesus, who lived his entire life perfectly obeying his Father. He never committed a single sin in thought, word, or deed, but on the cross, God clothed Jesus in our filthy rags of unrighteousness then crushed him so that when we turn to Jesus, God places his shining robes of righteousness on us. Not because of our work but as a gift!
Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness Romans 4:4-5
What joy! What satisfaction! What rest! Like when you’re starving and you eat a great meal and you’re just stuffed. Satisfied!
ONGOING HUNGER AND THIRST
Yet there’s an ongoing hunger. Jesus didn’t say “Blessed are those who at one time hungered and thirsted,” He said blessed are those who hunger and thirst – present tense.
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? Ps 42:1-2
The Christian life is a rhythm of being filled with the Spirit, then longing for more. Feasting on joy then asking for more. Drinking in God’s love, then waking the next morning thirsting for more. God will continue to satisfy us throughout our lives till drink in the sight of his glory in heaven.