Summary: Examination of the fourth BE-Attitude: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
PURSUING HAPPINESS: Starving for Righteousness
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”
1. You would not be unique if the thought has crossed your mind, of what relevance is this study on the Sermon on the Mount at a time when our world is being engulfed with a deluge of war, terrorism, violence, brutality, selfishness, greed, and political, social, economic, and environmental problems that completely dwarf anything we have ever encountered before?
• Are we Christians simply seeking to bury our heads in spiritual sand, hoping that if we do so the problems will eventually go away?
• Are we guilty of focusing on heaven because the problems of earth have become too overwhelming for us?
• Or do we really need to pay closer attention to this word as the one and only certain cure for this world’s madness?
2. I firmly believe that the children’s nursery rhyme, "Humpty Dumpty", with a slight modification and extra verse I composed, is a descriptive parable of our world.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the world’s horses and all the world’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
But Humpty’s Creator looked down from above
And sent His own Son as the gift of His love
He took all our brokenness as He suffered in pain
And where He is welcomed, Humpty’s made whole again.
3. All our councils, committees, conventions, and conferences seem to be able to do is try to medicate the symptoms instead of getting at the root cause. We prescribe temporary pain killers or band-aid patches for the endemic, deadly, and oozing wounds of our planet and refuse to face the origin of our brokenness and disease which is our sin and rejection of God and His ways.
• When you reject the light, you have to suffer the consequences of living in the darkness.
• When you reject the air that sustains you, the natural consequence is asphyxiation and death.
• When we reject God’s righteousness, it is no wonder why we are neither blessed nor satisfied.
4. We turn this morning to the fourth “be-Attitude” in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount – His instruction manual for entry into and living the Christian life – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
• We’ve already seen how the first Beatitude describes the doorway to the Kingdom of God or entry to the Christian life – that of acknowledging our utter spiritual poverty or bankruptcy before God.
• Building on that attitude we mourn our condition and experience sorrow over how our sin has separated and alienated us from God. As we do so in repentance and faith, God comforts our hearts.
• In that posture of meekness – strength under control – we allow God to place His bit in our mouths and willingly place the reins of our life in His hands.
• Now, because we have acknowledged that true and abundant satisfaction is the blessed reward of loving and obeying Him, we become aware of our need of a passionate hunger and thirst for His righteousness.
5. The blessedness of abundant satisfaction will never be found or enjoyed by those who seek just the experience – and people are seeking satisfaction and happiness all the time in myriads of ways – trying desperately to fill the gaping and aching void in their souls – in entertainment, education, sport, hobbies, relationships, sex, drugs, alcohol, and yes, even in church and religious conventions - running frantically from one event to another.
• The blessedness of knowing our soul’s hunger satisfied and thirst quenched comes only from being restored in a right relationship with the Lord of all righteousness.
6. So what is this righteousness that the blessed hunger and thirst after? There are at least three descriptions of righteousness in Scripture:
• First, there is the legal definition. Our sin has separated us from and made us guilty before God. But because of His great love for us, and through the finished sacrificial work on the Cross of His Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, He has declared us not guilty and restored us to Himself in Christ. He has blotted out our iniquities and “has separated our sins from us as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12), and “He remembers them no more” (Isaiah 43:25). Paul writes in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God has applied the righteousness of Christ to us and truly blessed are those who hunger and thirst for this freedom from the guilt and condemnation of their sin.
• Second, there is the moral or ethical definition. This understanding of righteousness describes the lives of those who seek to honor and obey God in all their thoughts and actions. In Genesis 6:9, Noah was described in this way, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation”. God characterized Job as “a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8). Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist are both described in Luke 1:6 as “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”. Those with this kind of righteousness not only seek to be free from outward acts of sinfulness, but also on the inside from the very desire of it. They recognize that they cannot produce this righteousness in and of themselves but seek God’s Spirit to work it into their characters. They want the character of Christ, the fruit of the Spirit, to be formed in them and radiate from them and blessed are those who hunger and thirst for this righteousness.