Summary: Fourth in my Being the Believing series through the Beatitudes
A Healthy Hunger!
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."
There are a few issues we need to address with this text, the first being the language in the words hunger and thirst. An interpretation that more accurately reflects the original meaning would read this verse like "Blessed are those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness." This text is not speaking of a one-time event or a past occurrence, something that happened to be gotten over, but a constant longing, a deep insatiable continuous craving for righteousness.
Many folks in this building will never experience what it is like to really hunger and thirst, we are too busy struggling with the decision of whether or not we should supersize our next meal.
In 1987 I got such a sense of hunger and thirst. I was stationed on the Unites States Coast Guard Cutter Sweetbrier out of Cordova Alaska. The scope of duty for this ship and her crew was to provide search and rescue, aids to navigation, law enforcement patrols and international intervention. Since our missions were carried out in the Prince William Sound and the Bearing Sea, we all had to go through the Cold Water Survival School, which included a few days on an uninhabited island. We were dropped of a couple of hundred yards off the beach in our leaking ¡§water proof¡¨ Gumby suits and were required to swim to shore, establish a camp in our groups of four, get dry, build a shelter, conduct a perimeter search, compile resources and survive for a few days. We found out later that some groups smuggled cans of tuna, lighters, and tobacco. Our group followed the rules to the tee and we had nothing but wet clothes that became stiff as boards during the night. Toward the end of this training, I drank water from my rung out socks, and ate the rotten flesh off a washed up dead fish. I can tell you that I was really hungering and thirsting and had gotten to the point that my entire focus was on finding something to eat and drink and nothing else mattered.
THAT is the theme of this text. Jesus wants to get us to the point that we are hungering and thirsting to the degree that it is all we think about, He is all we think about. Having a deep insatiable continuous craving for righteousness
So, what are we to hunger and thirst for? Righteousness! What is righteousness? Well, it¡¦s really not that simple. In fact, scholars have debated this question as it pertains to this text for years. Some think this is speaking of:
1. Salvation given to us by God: And, that would seem to confirm the thought brought out in Matthew 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." I stated last week that those that desire a relationship with God must come to the place in their lives where they need a relationship with God. This is desperation, hungering and thirsting. The same hungering and thirsting that caused an entire congregation under the preaching of Jonathan Edwards to run down the aisle, grab onto the pew, cry out for mercy, fearing that at any moment the floor would open wide for hell to receive them.
The same hungering and thirsting that caused this pastor in 1990 to double time down the aisle of a church in Mass. under the full conviction of the Holy Spirit of God that I was a sinner in need of a Savior.
The same hungering and thirsting that has been experienced by countless thousands that have grown weary and tired of never being satisfied never being filled that finally cry out for satisfaction and discover what joy comes in salvation given to us by God.
Righteousness can mean our salvation given to us by God.
Another thought of what this righteousness is could be:
2. Standing given for us through Christ: Many scholars believe this hungering and thirsting to be eschatological in nature, that this righteousness causes us to look ahead and be confident through this life knowing that there will be a time when our Father will return, fix everything broken and make every wrong right. That when it is time for all of humanity to bow down before God that we will be found righteous and be permitted to remain in His glorious presence. Listen, I may not know much, but I know who Jesus is, what He did, where He is and who I am because of it all. I know that there is coming a day when I my heart will stop beating, my eyes will close, my breath will leave and those that are left behind will bury this body in the ground, throw up a gravestone marking the place where many think it all ended. But meanwhile up in heaven there will be some rejoicing going on for another sinner has come home. The angels will be swirling, the saints dancing, the greats shouting, my Savor standing, oh what a day, glorious day that will be!