Summary: Four questions from the Sermon on the Mount regarding the kind of righteousness we should hunger and thirst for.


Sunday, October 8, 2006

Pastor Brian Matherlee


Start with the story from “The Applause of Heaven” (Lucado, pp. 91-92, copyright, Word Publishing, 1990) where the mother and daughter are trapped in rubble from an earthquake. Stop short of the paragraph where the mother recalls a program she saw where an arctic explorer drank blood to stay alive.

We will do nearly anything when we are desperately thirsty. When someone is truly hungry they will eat anything. The problem is that we fill ourselves up on whatever is easiest to find. It’s hard, when junk presents itself, to resist and hold out for the things that are best for us. Jesus understood this. He had been led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted. After 40 days of no food hunger became a battle beyond the physical into the mental, emotional, and spiritual. Satan tested the resolve of Jesus to hold out for the right by tempting him to turn stones into bread. Jesus passed the test. He reminded Satan in Matthew 4:4, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

We overestimate the value of this world. We think we need so much and we hunger for those things! But Jesus talks about a people who find joy and happiness in Matthew 5. He says in 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

This verse is the pendulum upon which the transformation from what we used to be to what we are called to be swings. The first 3 beatitudes bring us to the realization of our moral bankruptcy, our need to grieve and forsake sin, and our need to acknowledge God alone as our hope for salvation. The last half of the beatitudes, along with the remainder of the “Sermon on the Mount” outline the behaviors and actions of those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

What is the righteousness we must pursue?

Matthew 5:48 tells us “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Amos 7:7, “The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord asked me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ ‘A plumb line,’ I replied. Then the Lord said, ‘Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people’.”

• We say, “That’s too hard”.

• We try to move the line to reflect our standards—not God’s. We work hard to accommodate our shortcomings but God’s standard is an exacting standard.

• Don’t we want to do right? Don’t we want to be right?

4 questions I want to ask you:

1. Do you hunger and thirst for the kind of righteousness that wins the battle over temptations in your heart and mind?

a. Before it gets out of my mouth or woven into my thoughts or tells my body to act!

b. Holy Character is the issue here.

c. My inner being is the battlefield.

d. In Jesus’ sermon he discusses the intention of the commandments God had given Israel. It isn’t enough, Jesus basically says, to not break the letter of the law; we must keep the spirit of the law in my innermost being.

e. How can my thoughts be righteous? Who can control what they think about?

f. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

g. I make thoughts obedient to Christ by giving them less and less territory to operate. Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

2. Do you hunger and thirst for the kind of righteousness that does the right things with no thought of how they are perceived or recognized?

a. In Matthew 6 Jesus lists 3 spiritual things we do that can be done for the wrong reasons.

i. He warns against giving to people to show how good you are to the ‘less fortunate’. (6:1-2)

ii. He blasts those who are ‘religious’(6:5-8) (hypocrites—Paul described them to Timothy as “having a form of godliness but denying its power”/2 Tim. 3:5) who pray only to be perceived as really in touch with God.

iii. He warns against people who use spiritual disciplines (6:16) (fasting, in particular) to demonstrate moral superiority.

b. The brothers in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) can help us understand the point.

i. The older brother was concerned about not breaking the rules while the younger brother upon returning was concerned about being the right kind of son.

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