Summary: In our beatitude today we’re going to see how God wants us to seek after him and his justice. We have recognized our utter dependence on him for life and salvation, we have grieved over our sin and the spiritual state of the world. We have embraced the fa
Have you ever really been hungry, not its noon I better have some lunch hungry. Not “I haven’t eaten all day hungry, but if I don’t eat soon I will die hungry”? Have you ever gone two days without a drop of water to the point that you start hallucinating and are close to going into a coma that leads to death?
Well, probably half the population in the world knows this kind of hunger or thirst. Certainly in the desert area Jesus wandered through these things could be very scarce, especially water.
And in our beatitude today we’re going to see how God wants us to seek after him and his justice. We have recognized our utter dependence on him for life and salvation, we have grieved over our sin and the spiritual state of the world. We have embraced the fact that we have no rights in God’s eyes, yet he gives us freedom and he is there with an indescribable inheritance when we allow him to be our Lord.
Is that enough for us to hunger and thirst for him as if our lives depended on it? Is our desire for his justice and righteousness as important as the air we breathe? Well, Jesus is saying it should be if you are truly a Christian.
This is the beatitude that best expresses our attitude toward God. To hunger and thirst as if our lives depended on Him, which they do. The first three beatitudes described what we are as Christians, this one now speaks of what we do. We must put some effort into this one.
Let’s look at:
I. The Need (Mt 5:6a)
What is righteousness? As always, let’s start with the original Greek word dikaiosune. Which literally means equity or justification, and its root is the word meaning holy or innocent. This word is in the accusative case which simply means we don’t hunger and thirst for just a portion, like a slice or even a loaf of bread, or some righteousness, but all of it, total righteousness, all that is possible to have.
So what we’re talking about here is the desire to be made right with God. To be declared innocent. We know we cannot be righteous on our own, with our own justification for our sin, only God through Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice can make us right with God, holy, innocent, justified in the cosmic court.
If you want a really comprehensive view of biblical righteousness, have a look at the Proverbs especially chapters 10-13 where there are numerous uses of the word righteous.
David was a great example of this in his Psalms. He speaks often of “his soul thirsting for the living God”, “my body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water”, “my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God”, “as the deer pants for water, so my soul pants for you, Oh God”.
These are not religious platitudes or superficial emotions, they are whole hearted, desperate, earnest cries from one for whom life without a sense of God’s presence was the equivalent of dying of thirst or starving to death. How often do we feel like that?
Let me illustrate. You’re driving down the road and notice your fuel gauge is very near empty, and there’s no gas station for miles. Or maybe you have had that heart sinking feeling when your vehicle just gives out when you run out of gas in the middle of nowhere.
Some vehicles have warning lights or other alerts when you’re running low, but the vehicle itself has no desire or thirst for fuel. It’s not a perfect illustration, but isn’t that a picture of many professing Christians? Outwardly everything seems fine. They live respectable lives, they attend church regularly, they use religious language, but inwardly and spiritually they are dangerously near empty.
There’s no sense of need, no hungering and thirsting after God, no desperation. Even worse, they’re not aware of it. They remind us of the Laodicean Christians in Revelation who thought they were rich and didn’t need a thing, but Jesus said, “you don’t realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked”. Every one of us whether a new Christian or a lifer, needs to keep an eye on our spiritual gauge everyday because it is this false sense of our spiritual state that is an epidemic in our churches today.
Again we see how this will naturally come from an awareness of our spiritual poverty, our mourning for sin, and our meekness in the first three beatitudes. Those things must naturally lead us to a desperate zeal for Jesus and his righteousness, and the righteousness of others. In a sense it’s an anger that motivates you and has been tempered by meekness to produce positive results.