Summary: God blesses those who hunger and thirst for goodness like a dying person hungers for food or drink.
Living Large-With Goodness
The Beatitudes Part 4
Rev. Gary A. Shockley
September 30, 2001
Man On the Street Video- “What is a good person?” What does “being good” mean to you?
The beatitude this morning from Matthew 5:6 is about goodness. The NLT puts it this way, “God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice…” Other versions read, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” Justice and righteousness basically mean a deep down kind of goodness.
Goodness is something every parent tries to instill in their children at a very early age. Everywhere you go you hear parent’s saying the same thing “be good!”
When I was growing up I remember my youth director, a big bearded man in his fifties, sharing a story with me about how he happened to be in the toy department of a well-known department store when a little boy around the age of three was just going ballistic. He apparently wanted his mother to buy him a toy and she refused. Well, he laid down on the floor kicking his feet, flailing his arms and screaming out at the top of his voice while his mother continued her shopping acting as though he wasn’t there.
My friend was watching all of this. The little boy got louder and louder and his face got redder and redder until finally Fred, a man in his fifties, laid down on the floor beside him and began screaming and flailing too. Suddenly the little boy stopped. He got up and looked down at Fred in absolute shock. Fred sat up and said to the child, “See how silly that looks!” The kid ran back to his mother and never made another sound. We want our children to be good. But isn’t that what we want for ourselves too?
All my life I have made every effort to be “good”.
q good neighbor
q “good” son,
q good student
q good pastor even at age 18,
q good husband,
q good friend,
q good father,
q good child of God.
Well, what is goodness, really?
q Webster’s New World Dictionary: “having the proper qualities. Honorable, enjoyable, pleasant, virtuous, kind, dutiful and devout.” If you possess these qualities you are good—according to Mr. Webster.
Okay, but what does “goodness” mean to God? That’s the $20,000 question this morning, isn’t it?
A man came up to Jesus one day and asked him straight out, “What good things must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Why are you asking me about what us good—only God is good.”
If you want to be good, Jesus said, then you have to be like God… you have to have His qualities…His character traits… His heart.
The Bible lists several qualities of goodness that we see in God in what are called the “Fruits of God’s Spirit” in Galatians 5:22, ”When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” To be good means to be like that—to be like God.
But there’s a problem here. As hard as I try I’m not like that—all the time. I want to be—but I’m not. There are times when I am just not loving, or joyful, or patient, or kind, or faithful, or gentle or self-controlled. There are times when it seems like I’m none of these things.
Even as a Christian, saved by faith in Jesus Christ, I still struggle with sin. Some parts of me still resist the light and the love of God. And I wonder, at times, is there any hope for me? Ever feel that way?
The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7, “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right (I want to be good) but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate…no matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right.” (Romans 7:15,18, 19) Where’s the hope of goodness for Paul—for me?
Here’s it is. It’s right here in this beatitude. Look at it again. Jesus doesn’t say, “Blessed are those who are just, or righteous, or good” Listen to this—here’s my hope and yours! Jesus says God blesses those who hunger and thirst for goodness! It’s in the hungering and thirsting that we are blessed. It’s when I want to be like Him more than I want anything else in my life—that God blesses me! When I want goodness like a starving person wants food and water!
What are you hungry for today? Forget about what you’re going to have for lunch when you get home—I’m talking about that deep down soul hunger you’ve got going inside you. Around here we talk about that being the “God-size” hole in us that can only be filled, really be satisfied with God himself!