Summary: A passionate pursuit of righteousness (being right with God, right with other people, right in the pirnciples we live by) results in the fulfillment and lasting happiness we all desire.
Last week we found in Psalm 1 a picture of true happiness. We found it as we saw the contrast between two metaphors. A life without God was illustrated by chaff, which the wind blows away. A life rooted in God was portrayed as a tree planted by the water.
Today our text also addresses this issue of finding true happiness. In the Beatitudes Jesus is telling us what kind of person is going to ultimately enjoy the blessing of a rich, fulfilling life. In our text (Matthew 5:6) Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” NIV
What do those words tell us about life? What can we learn about true fulfillment and happiness from this Beatitude?
I. The Pursuit Jesus is recommending is a pursuit of “righteousness”.
It is interesting that Jesus does not say, “Blessed are those who diligently pursue happiness...” That’s the common human quest. Happiness is what people want. Happiness is what they are trying to find. Even our constitution guarantees that quest, “the pursuit of happiness.”
But when we launch a direct pursuit of happiness it becomes an illusive dream.
Like a soap bubbles floating in the air it is always slightly out of reach. And just as we think we have grasped it, it bursts in our hands and disappears.
Jesus is telling us what will bring happiness. But happiness is not what he is telling us to pursue. He is telling us to pursue righteousness. And when we do that happiness is comes as product of that pursuit. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness! Is righteousness your pursuit? That goal will bring true happiness.
The goal is to be something or someone that is right—right with God, right with other people, right in the principles we lives by.
Have you learned that, as a finite being you cannot pursue everything at the same time? We have to choose what we will pursue in life. And when we choose one thing there is ultimately not enough time for something else.
The most common reason for not pursuing something is simply this: “I would like to, I want to, but I just don’t have enough time.” The up and coming executive at the corporate office says, “I would like to have a good marriage, I would like to spend quality time with my kids—but after a 12 or 13 hour day at the office I’m too tired. I’ve got to get some rest. I just don’t have time.”
The Christian who feels guilty about his prayer life says, “I know I ought to pray more and I want to get into the word more, but I just don’t have time to do it.”
Time is the big issue. Or is it? The real issue is not time but priorities. All of us have the same amount of time, 24 hours a day. Each and every one of us only have enough time to do what? We only have time to do the priorities. For every here some things are not going to get done and some things are going to get done. This is where our accountability lies: We decide our own priorities! We decide what will get done and what won’t get done.
If we decide righteousness is priority it will dramatically affect our schedules.
The fact you are here this morning indicates that you have placed some priority on the pursuit of righteousness. The evidence of our pursuit of righteousness is found in the way we invest our time. If I am pursuing righteousness I will pray, I will find time for God; I will gaze upon the beauty of His holiness and be changed from glory to glory.
Worship will characterize my life. I will want to know His will through His word.
It will be my meditation day and night. “Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you.” A life in pursuit of righteousness is a life lived in the word.
The pursuit Jesus calls up to in our text is a pursuit of righteousness.
II. The Passion with which we are to seek righteousness is illustrated by “hunger and thirst”.
Jesus does not use one metaphor to make his point, but two. And he picks the two most basic, most powerful drives we can experience: the desire for food when one is starving to death and the quest for water when one is dying of thirst. In other words, the passion Jesus is talking about is by no means incidental to what we are doing.
A person that is really, really hungry does not think food would be nice to have—it is a must. Everything else becomes incidental. The point of focus is the food. It becomes his number one priority.