Summary: The secret to a healthy spiritual life is a passion for God.
Title: Happy are the Starved
Text: Matthew 5:6
Truth: The secret to a healthy spiritual life is a passion for God.
Aim: To incite desire for God more than anything else.
The commercial break gives us insight into how Jesus taught spiritual lessons. Advertisers pay millions to put their slogans and images before us. They believe it is worth it. Why? Because it works. They know if they can get their slogan and image into our head it will influence our choices. It’s called buying real estate in our mind. They don’t have to present a persuasive case for why we need to buy their product. Carol and I saw a Nike commercial and Carol asked what was the point of the commercial. I told her I didn’t know, but at the end of the commercial was the Nike swoosh. That check mark is one of the most successful images in advertising in the world.
Advertisers have learned what Jesus knew 2,000 years ago: an image connected with an idea is a powerful means of influencing our view of the world. Madison Avenue has two deliberate actions as a part of their strategy. First, they suggest our world is incomplete without their product. Second, they give us that image over and over. Nike knows we won’t buy a pair of their sneakers after one commercial, but after a thousand the idea begins to influence our choice.
Jesus understood the power of an image connected with an idea. The cross, a mustard seed, a lamp on a stand, a pearl, and hunger and thirst are not only realities, but they are powerful images that reveal something even great about Christ and His purposes for our life. Like the advertisers, to get the full impact of the wealth of their meaning we need to bring them before us again and again. Of all the images Christ used to teach about himself the one that we experience every day is hunger and thirst. In fact, all of us will act on this image immediately after this service. We’re given this powerful image every day so that its truth will capture our choices each day. I suggest that the idea Jesus is teaching us through this image is that the secret to a healthy spiritual life is a passion for God.
A hunger and thirst for God naturally flows from one who recognizes his spiritual bankruptcy before God. That’s the first beatitude. When a person has mourned over his sin and repented, he will naturally turn to seek God. That’s the second beatitude. When a person submits to God, they want God. That’s the third beatitude. In fact there won’t be a hunger and thirst for God unless there is an acknowledgment of spiritual bankruptcy, a brokenness over sin and a surrendering to God.
I want you to notice two things from this verse: the condition to a healthy spiritual life and the consequences of a healthy spiritual life.
I. THE CONDITION TO A HEALTHY SPIRITUAL LIFE.
Some translations use the word “happy.” We’ve seen that is a poor exchange. Those who are blessed are generally profoundly happy; but blessedness cannot be reduced to happiness. In the Scriptures man can bless God and God can bless man. In that duality we get a clue as to what does blessing mean. To be blessed fundamentally means to be approved, to find approval. When man blesses God, he is approving God. Of course, he is not doing this in some condescending manner, but rather he is eulogizing God, praising God. When God blesses man, he is approving man; and that is always an act of condescension.
Since this is God’s universe there can be no higher “blessing” than to be approved by God. The beatitudes challenge us to consider whose blessing we are seeking. Is it more important to be approved by our family or colleagues, or is the most important desire to gain God’s approval? For those Christians that yearn to please God more than anyone else in their world, these beatitudes will be very encouraging to them.
The disciple that pleases God hungers and thirsts for righteousness. It is not that he wants to be a little more righteous. The intensity with which Jesus states this pictures desperation. He can’t get along without righteousness; it is as important to him as food and water.
The scholars say that the grammar of the original language expresses a hunger and thirst for the whole thing. In other words, this person doesn’t want a sandwich, he wants the whole loaf of bread. This describes the hunger we have when we say we are starving. Though few of us really know what that is like. Praise the Lord! This person is not asking for a sip of water; he wants the whole glass.