Summary: What does it mean to hunger and thirst after righteousness?
God has given us a picture of the Christian person in the Beatitudes – an authentic picture of Jesus and those who would follow Him.
The Beatitudes begin with the poor in spirit, those who have realized their own inadequacy in spiritual things; they seek for something outside of themselves. Those who mourn over that need (sin) are those who become born into the kingdom. Poor in spirit is a beginning;
Mourning brings about a birth; but like all newborns there is a maturation process where wisdom balances youthful strength. The balancing act of meekness is strength that has been domesticated and placed at the Master’s disposal.
We are beginning to see an analogy develop. It is the picture of birth. In the womb the child waits, totally dependent for everything. This is poverty of spirit. I cannot birth myself; I must depend upon the birth pangs. Mourning is like the labor process, pain and happiness entwined. That is, there is pain over the madness my sin has added to the troubles of mankind; there is joy over the forgiving work of Christ on Calvary as the Spirit of God births me into the family.
From that moment there is growth in the moral/spiritual realm. I have the ability to choose, to decide for myself what is important, what I will do. The blessed meek are the wise who learn to use that strength for good purposes. That is what we will call "blessed backbone."
Everybody needs a backbone. In our text we could choose to focus on any word, but there is one that drives the others; it is the word "after." It is in the accusative case, meaning the hungering and thirsting after righteousness is a wide-open throttle.
Being blessed is a matter of craving the righteousness of God like a starving man, or a desperate dehydrated traveler on the desert. What is the righteousness of God? It is simply the goodness you see in Jesus.
Keep the picture of a man, obsessed with the character of goodness, desiring to make it his own. Keep it in mind as we look at two KINGDOM PRINCIPLES about being God’s person.
1. A GOOD APPETITE IS A SIGN OF HEALTH
A child in the crib that demands to be fed is judged as healthy. He lets the whole county know how he feels about it. Loss of appetite is a danger signal. The number one measurement of the health of your spiritual life is your appetite for spiritual things. Let’s take the temperature.
• Do you love to study God’s word?
• Do you have a deep desire to have the blessing of God on your life more than watching TV, sleeping-in?
• Is it one of the great joys of your life to be around God’s family?
• Do you love to give testimony of what God is doing in your life?
Jacob wrestled fiercely with the angel of God all night long, vowing he would never let go until he had the blessing of God. John Knox hungered and thirsted after God so intensely he cried, "Give me Scotland, or I die."
It is the NORMAL CONDITION OF A HEALTHY MORAL SOUL TO DESIRE SPIRITUAL GROWTH.
A common beech tree will drink 65 gallons or more each day, drawing it sometimes over 100 feet to the top branches. We still don’t know how that really happens, but the tree hungers and thirsts for it. When it stops, it is a signal that it is dead...Not dying, DEAD!
There is a parallel. You may have once realized your need, been poor in spirit. You may, in spiritual mourning over your sins been born into the kingdom. In true meekness you became a servant of God – but then, did you lose your appetite for the water of life somewhere? You started with promise, but are you STILL hungering and thirsting for God’s Word, His righteousness? Are you serving and seeking Him like a starving, thirsting, desperate man? Or are you ignoring the hunger? Have you become spiritually-anorexic?
If so, there is still time to change. "Taste and see that the Lord is good" Said the Psalmist (34.8). Let God reclaim your appetite. Obey one biblical truth starting today and see what nourishment comes of it. Begin growing again.
2. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Spiritually, the world is "junk-food" oriented. Consider what’s on TV, most of it rots a believer’s spiritual digestion. The nardoo root is native to Australia. You can grind it into a flour-like powder and bake it. It tastes fine, but has no nutritive content whatsoever. You can sate your appetite, and starve to death.
In Africa and India they do the same thing during hard times with a mixture of edible soils found around certain trees. Palatable, but worthless. Amos (2.7) called this empty feeding "panting after the dust of the earth."