Summary: Fourth of the Eight Milestones on the Journey of the Fruitful Followers.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:4
A Sunday school teacher asked the children just before she dismissed them to go to church, "And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?" Annie replied, "Because people are sleeping."
A Sunday School teacher asked her class why Joseph and Mary took Jesus with them to Jerusalem. A small child replied: "They couldn’t get a baby-sitter."
A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to "honor thy father and thy mother," she asked "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?" Without missing a beat one little boy answered, "Thou shall not kill."
In the Old Testament time, when people talked about righteousness, it usually meant keeping the Ten Commandments. Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments into two, “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love others as yourself.” So according to Jesus, righteousness is someone who has the right relationship with God and others.
Today we are going to look at the 4th beatitude, which talks about the fourth stage of a fruitful life, in which is when we become hungry and thirsty for righteousness. It is like a seed that is germinated and begin to sprout and being to hunger and thirst for water and nutrition. A person who is on his way to a fruitful life, at this stage, begin to desire for righteousness, and Jesus said they are blessed because they will be filled. This word “filled” in Greek means saturated. In other words you will be provided abundantly.
Remember the central teaching of Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount is Matthew 6:33, “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” After mentioning the kingdom of God, Jesus touched on the subject of righteousness in the fourth beatitude. Based on Jesus’ teaching in the entire New Testament, “to hunger and thirst for righteousness” means to hunger and thirst for the right relationship with God and others.
Righteousness can be symbolized by the cross, which is composed of a vertical and a horizontal pole. The vertical one symbolizes our relationship with God and the horizontal one symbolize our relationship others. And the fact that the horizontal pole hangs on the vertical one means our healthy relationship with others depends on our healthy relationship with God.
Right Relationship with God
According to Jesus our relationship with God must be at the center of our focus. He said was must love God with all our heart, which mean we must love him passionately. We must love God with all our mind, meaning we must love him intellectually. We must love him with all our soul, meaning we must love him worshipfully. And Mark it has one more element, that we must love him with all our strength, that means loving him energetically. It is 100% devotion to God. I have talked about that many times, so we will focus on right relationship with others.
Right Relationship with Others
With our relationship with God at the center of our life, we love others as we love ourselves. Notice Jesus didn’t ask us to love others with all our hearts and souls and mind and strength. That must only be for God, but he asks us to love others only as we love ourselves. The reason is if you love a human being with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul, you will get hurt, because you are not created to do that and a human being is not created to take that. Human beings are not God and when you give all your heart, and mind, and soul to a person you are making him or her god.
Let’s learn from Jesus how he keeps the right relationship with others.
1. Practice Detached Interdependence
When I was young, my uncle told me to keep my friendship like “water.” He quoted a famous quote by a king in the Chinese history that says, “A noble person’s friendship is as light as water. A nonentity’s friendship is as sweet as wine.” I was never able to grasp the wisdom of it throughout my youth and young adult life. My uncle was warning me because he saw me having friends that seemed too close and tightly knit, which according to this wisdom could be destructive.
Robert E. Quinn says in his book, Building the Bridge as You Walk On It, that a transformational person practices “detached interdependence.” Overly attached relationship is not healthy, and we often get hurt by those that we are overly attached to. This often happens to the teenagers in love, and upon separation, they end up brokenhearted to the point that they could see no tomorrow. Individuality is lost in an overly attached relationship.