Summary: We started looking into the beatitudes last week by seeing how being poor in spirit, mourning and being meek are things that bring blessing into our lives. Today we continue by looking at how we are blessed by hungering and thirsting for righteousness and being merciful.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT (part two)
Beatitudes mean declarations of blessedness. The term blessedness means joy. Therefore, the state of blessedness would be a state of joy, which is more than just happy. Blessedness refers to the distinctive spiritual joy of those who are saved. We typically wouldn’t consider the items in this list to bring blessedness.
We started looking at the list last week by seeing how being poor in spirit, mourning and being meek are things that bring blessing into our lives. Poor in spirit means I’ve recognized my spiritual poverty. I am no longer in denial about my true spiritual condition.
And in turn I cry out to God to rescue me. I mourn over my sinful state. I am no longer blind to the ugliness of my sin and it grieves me. In being meek we saw how it is anything but weak. I am gentle and kind but I can still be assertive and powerful. We see how these attributes represent humility.
In these are the blessings of the kingdom of heaven, comfort when I mourn and the riches of God's bounty. Today we'll look at how we are blessed by hungering and thirsting for righteousness and by being merciful.
1) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Matt. 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."
We all hunger and thirst for something. Hungering and thirsting for something indicates it’s a priority; it takes precedence over other things. What are we driven to pursue? Money, a promotion, a relationship, the next big thing? Regardless, the irony is no matter how much we pursue it we'll still be left hungry. Whatever worldly thing we find ourselves hungry or thirsty for, after we have gotten some of it, we soon realize it doesn’t really satisfy.
“Once there was a man known as the Hunger Artist. He made his living by professional fasting. He would go for extended periods of time without eating and drinking anything and people would pay to see him do it. At that time, professional fasting was a respected and lucrative business.
The hunger artist would sit on straw in a small cage expressing his will power to go for long periods without eating or drinking anything. He would fast for forty days and when the forty days were up the band would play, and his manager would give a speech. Then, two ladies would lead him in his weakened condition out of the cage. The crowd would roar with excitement and ultimately they would pay him a great sum of money in appreciation for his great work of art.
However, there came a time when professional fasting was no longer appreciated. The man lost his manager and had to join the circus. He soon became depressed and discouraged. The people paid him no attention as they rushed by him to see the more popular exhibits in the circus. He was ignored and forgotten, even by the leaders and the owners of the circus.
His fast went way past forty days, because nobody bothered to count the days. And ultimately they found him one day slumped over in the cage. They rushed over to assist him and in his last dying breath, he told his secret. He simply said, “I have to fast; I have no choice. You see, I couldn’t find any food that would satisfy me.”
This may seem like a strange story but when you learn more about the author, Franz Koffka, it makes more sense. Koffka was an atheist. He had said this story summed up what he felt about life. In retrospect, “The Hunger Artist” was not about physical hunger; it was about spiritual hunger.
Beneath the surface of this story, Franz Koffka was talking about his own spiritual condition; he was The Hunger Artist. He recognized his soul was starving, but he said, “I can’t find anything in life that will satisfy me!” Only those that hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God will truly be satisfied. Only those who pursue the things of God will be able to get their true needs met.
Isaiah 55:1-2, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare."
If you read on you see that this is an invitation to come to the Lord. Why are we continuing to chase after that which does not bring true satisfaction? There's a saying that the best things in life are free. That's true. Money can't buy things like love and dignity. And tops on the list of what money can't buy is salvation. So why spend more and more money, time and effort into things that won't do what only God can do for us? What's more important-pleasing my flesh or the joy of my soul?