Summary: If a person does not hunger for physical food they probably will not take time to eat and will die. If a person does not hunger for spiritual food they probably will not take time for spiritual food and will die spiritually. So, why don't we spend more time feasting on God's Word?

Hungering For Righteousness

Please stand with me as we go over our current memory Scripture:

Matthew 5:6-8

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

And our memory Scripture “refresher” verse is:

Isaiah 53:5-6

“He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.

“All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

Today we will be reading from Matthew 5:1-12

What do you want most in life?

What is it that get’s you going in the morning?

What is the underlying current that directs your life?

- For the greedy it may be a promotion with a higher salary or a better investment plan.

- For the lazy it may be finding another government handout.

- For the intellectual it may be gaining more knowledge and with it a sense of educational superiority.

- For the handsome or beautiful it may be garnering more admiring looks and the thought that you are physically superior.

- For the faithful servant of the Most High God it should be “hungering and thirsting for righteousness …”

If you have ever been around a healthy infant you would know that they are very often “hungering and thirsting” for nourishment. That hunger and thirst is a driving force in their lives. Not only does it get them going in the morning but it also gets them going in all times of the day or night.

If they did not have this drive for nutrition within them they would encounter a condition called “failure to thrive”.

Way back in early 2012 we spent several weeks looking at the great truths found in the Beatitudes. And, as you know our current memory Scripture is Matthew 5:6-8 so today we will be taking another look at Matthew 5:6 which says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

And to get us focused, let’s go ahead and read Matthew 5:1-12

(Prayer for help)

In know this is odd but with today’s sermon we will be starting in the middle of the Beatitudes. In this case it is important to at least make a brief statement about the first three Beatitudes which precede Matthew 5:6.

In Matthew 5:3 it says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”

When it says “poor in spirit” it is not talking about someone who is always depressed; someone who always finds the worst in any situation. Instead, it is talking about a person who realizes their true spiritual position of helplessness outside of Christ. This person knows that they have no righteousness of their own. As it says in the old hymn Rock of Ages, “In my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.”

In Matthew 5:4 it says, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”

Here the mourner is mourning for the state of their soul. They may be born again and yet still constantly struggling with sin and the attraction that the world had on them before they were saved. They are mourning because they know they are not pleasing in the sight of the Lord and they cannot imagine ever hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant. (Matthew 25:21)

In Matthew 5:5 it says, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”

Here the believer is meek because they know that even though they are saved their actions are still not pleasing in the sight of God and there is nothing they can do on their own to change. They are meek because they know that in every single step of their growth in Christ they are fully dependent on the Holy Spirit for help. And, this dependence leads us to Matthew 5:6 where the “poor in spirit”, “mournful” and “meek” Christian can start to find help.

OK. So, let’s take just the first phrase of this verse …

Matthew 5:6a

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness ...”

There are three segments we want to take a look at but let’s take them in reverse order, OK?

Matthew 5:6a

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness ...”


So, let’s look at what righteousness is ….

Righteousness is, “Right standing with God”.

As long as we live in this world can we ever have a right standing with God; can we ever truly be righteous?

No. We can’t. Not on our own. We need help from God for that!

Listen to Paul’s testimony about his life as a Pharisee before he came to know Jesus Christ as his Savior …

Philippians 3:4-6

“I have many reasons to trust in who I am and what I have done. Someone else may think they have reasons to trust in these things. But I have even more.

“I was circumcised on the eighth day. I am part of the people of Israel. I am from the tribe of Benjamin. I am a pure Hebrew. As far as the law is concerned, I am a Pharisee. As far as being committed is concerned, I opposed and attacked the church. As far as keeping the law is concerned, I kept it perfectly.”

Here we see that the Pharisee Paul thought he was righteous. He thought he had right standing with God and yet he was persecuting the church of Jesus Christ!

A person can’t be righteous until he has been born again.

A person cannot be righteous until he has faced his rebellion against God, confessed his sin and repented.

A person cannot be righteous until he has placed all of his faith and trust in Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

At that point he becomes righteous in relationship with God even though he is an infant believer and in great need of growth.

That is righteousness and right standing with God.

However …. And this is a big However …

When someone comes to Christ for salvation this is just the beginning of the journey.

This journey is described in another part of the verse where it says,

Matthew 5:6a

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness ...”

OK. So we didn’t drop righteousness in order to just look at hunger and thirst because they are inseparable.

We could hunger and thirst after many things.

Before the apostle Paul was saved he hungered and thirsted after a righteousness that he thought could be found through self effort.

He later considered those efforts to be pure garbage and worthless!

He was hungering and thirsting for what he thought was righteousness and found his life to be worthless instead of righteous.

He was like the football player who picked up a fumble and ran it into the opposing team’s end zone, scoring a touchdown for them!

Let me tell you. The devil loves this one! He doesn’t care how hard you try to be righteous. He doesn’t care how many times you go to church or do good deeds or even read the Bible. He only cares that you believe in your heart that your efforts are enough to save you!

The devil only cares that you never come to know Jesus as your Savior.

Here’s the one thing the evil one does NOT want you to do even if you do get saved. He does NOT want you to hunger and thirst after righteousness. He does NOT want you to develop a love relationship with God. The devil HATES that!

You see, a truly deep love relationship between a born again person and the Lord Jesus Christ will cause a person to hunger and thirst after righteousness.

You see, the Lord is a relationship God! How do we know that?

John 3:16-18

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

Matthew 22:37-38

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”

John 14:23-24

“Jesus said, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him.’”

What common word is found in all three of these verses? Love!

God loved us enough to send His only Begotten Son …

We are commanded to love the Lord our God with all we are …

Our love for Him will then result in our obedience to Jesus’ commands …

That obedience will result in the Lord making His home with us …

What a relationship! That relationship will drive a born again person to pursue true righteousness with a spiritual hunger and thirst that is unquenchable!

And that unquenchable hunger and thirst will be guided by the Holy Spirit until you become a man or woman of God who is so committed to the righteousness that comes through Christ that Christ will be able to reach others through you! Praise His Name!!

OK. Now that we know what true righteousness is and that a truly born again person will have a hunger and thirst for true righteousness we get to the third part of the verse …

Matthew 5:6a

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness ...”

Some translations render the word Blessed as “happy” which is not a good translation of the word. That’s not just my opinion. Happiness depends on circumstances.

If blessed only meant happy, that would mean that you would only be blessed when everything was going the way you want it to go, right?

That’s not what I would want. I would want to be blessed whether things were going right or not!

Here’s a good instance from the Bible about happiness and how quickly it can vanish …

For instance, we all know about Jonah, right?

(Give a brief account of Jonah mission to Nineveh up to the point where he is outside the city waiting to see if the Lord would destroy the city or not …)

Jonah 4:5-9

“Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then (Yahweh) the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

Plant gives shade - Jonah happy

Plant dies - Jonah angry … wants to die

When you look at the word “happy” it is dependent on the circumstances of your life at that time.

The last time we looked at the Beatitudes we defined “Blessed” as “Indwelt by God and therefore fully satisfied” and that is closer to the mark.

When you look at the word “Blessed” you can see that it is closely associated with the act of blessing. In a blessing there is always a “blessor” and a “blessee”. Now those are two words I just made up in order to get a point across.

Perhaps it would be easier to think of the terms that are used in a lease agreement.

In a lease agreement there is a Lessor and a Lessee. The Lessor owns the property and leases it to the Lessee. You cannot be a Lessee unless there is a Lessor with whom you enter into an agreement.

In the same way, you cannot be “blessed” unless there is a “blessor” and a “blessee”. The “blessor” bestows the blessing upon the “blessee”. In this case the “Blessor” is the Lord and the “blessee” is the one who is blessed by the Lord.

So, in the Beatitudes those who are “Blessed” would be “Those receiving God’s favor, regardless of circumstances”.

Would it be ok to loosely translate this verse as, “Those who hunger and thirst for true spiritual righteousness will live in a blessed relationship with God?”

Don’t you want to live in a blessed relationship with God?

Now, let’s take a look at the final phrase of this verse …

Matthew 5:6

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

What does that mean, “they shall be filled?” Filled with what?

First, a person who hungers and thirsts after true righteousness would be filled with the presence of the Lord Himself!

Let’s go back to a verse we looked at earlier …

John 14:23-24

“Jesus said, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him.’”

You see, this relationship thing is what God is all about.

But, the Lord is pure and Holy and He cannot be in relationship with those who are in rebellion against Him. That person will not be “blessed”.

Another person who will not be “blessed” is one who claims Christ as his Savior and still hungers and thirsts for the things of this world.

You see, this verse must have all three parts or it falls apart.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

That is truth. The blessing would be present and the person would be filled.

On the other hand, if you were to say, “Blessed are those who KNOW ABOUT righteousness” would be false. There would be no blessing. Just knowing what righteousness is, is not enough. Without the hungering and thirsting for righteousness the relationship is more of an acquaintance and the Lord is not after empty, shallow relationships.

What about this one, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after Anything But Righteousness” would be another colossal failure. There would be no blessing.

It only works if all three parts are there,

- understanding true Godly righteousness,

- hungering and thirsting after that righteousness

- and the relationship between the God who blesses and the one being blessed.

Is that you?

Do you have a love relationship with God or do you just know about Him?

Here’s the test. Are you hungry and thirsty for more of Him?

Can you go for days or weeks without ever thinking about Him?

Can you go for days or weeks without ever considering if what you are doing and saying is righteous in His sight?

Does He really matter to you at all?

There was a time when a man said to Jesus, “I do believe; help my unbelief”

Do you need to pray for the Lord to give you a hunger and thirst for righteousness?

Here is a quote from one of the last things Moses spoke to the people of Israel,

Deuteronomy 30:19-20

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

If you want real life that is filled with a blessed relationship with God, choose the Lord by hungering and thirsting after righteousness.