Summary: 4th part of eight on the Beattitudes.
The Perfect Standard For Life
A Call To Pursue Conformity To God’s Will -Part 4 of 8
Reading: Matthew 5v6.
In many magazines today, nutritionists have spoken to us about the importance of diet by telling us, we are what we eat.
In other words, they say, if you eat too many sweet things, to many doughnuts and cream puffs, we’ll become walking pastries, and I think what they say is quite true, isn’t it?
That also holds true about what our diet is in the spiritual realm.
In other words, if you continuously feed on violence, erotica and materialism, you will eventually become like that.
You will become what you eat.
In other words, you become a victim of your appetites.
…and this brings to light what Jesus is saying to us in this Beatitude, because in it Jesus sets before us the menu we have to eat from if we want a healthy and vibrant spiritual life.
He says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”.
In other words, Jesus here tells us what to eat – spiritually of course – and how we must eat to have good spiritual health, because our spiritual health comes from what we hunger for.
What Does It Mean To Hunger And Thirst After Righteousness?
The word “righteousness” as we have it here, means conforming to God’s commands for our lives as it is spelled out for us in the Bible.
It talks of an inner righteousness that works itself out in my living in conformity to God’s will, in other words, righteous living.
…and this is what it means: Those people who hunger and thirst for righteousness, long to live righteously and long to see it in the lives of other people as well.
It is a passionate desire which begins with your own life that all things should be lived in line with God’s Word and God’s will.
In other words, it talks here of having a desire to be like Jesus in all ways possible.
…and so to hunger and thirst for righteousness means longing after the practical living that the Beatitudes describe to us.
The person who hungers and thirsts after righteousness is the person who wants to live according to the character of the Kingdom of God.
That is the person who longs to live by the fruit of the Spirit.
“What is the fruit of the Spirit?”
Galatians 5v22-23 says, “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control;….” (LB).
…and so its a call to pursue conformity to God’s will for our lives in the most extreme terms.
…and by the way, this is not an optional spiritual extra, but a spiritual requirement.
Now I know when I am thirsty I simply turn on the tap and drink as much as I like.
When I am hungry I go to the fridge and eat what I want as much as I want.
“Do you have those same experiences at home as well?”
However, in the times when these words were written there was no such things as a tap or a fridge where I could satisfy my thirst and hunger immediately.
There condition was much worse than ours, because these people were never really far from dehydration or starvation.
…and so it describes a person who has gone without food and water for an extended period of time, and every fiber in their being is crying out for nourishment.
Its like this story I’m reminded about of a Mission’s trip to Mozambique a few years ago.
There was very little food for the people, and I remember one incident that really caught my attention.
Some of the girls went hut to hut, just visiting people and speaking to them about Christ and also trying to assess their needs.
They came to a hut of an elderly woman who was looking after her grandchildren.
There came a time when they asked he if she had anything to eat.
Her reply was, “We have something to eat now, but we expect to die in the next few days as we have nothing more to eat after today”.
That’s the kind of thirst and hunger Jesus is referring to.
In other words, Jesus is not talking about having a gentle desire for spiritual food, but rather a starvation for righteousness, a desperate hungering to be conformed to God’s will.
Its like this story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his companions who experienced extreme and continues hunger on their polar exposition.
When describing their experience, Shackleton said that they found it difficult to think about anything else than food or eating.
Well, this Beatitude is for the spiritual Shackleton’s of this world, those people who can think of nothing else but their hunger for God.