“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6)
We all have longings and desires.
We don’t usually talk about the things we want in terms of “hunger” and “thirst,” yet these words ring just as true. For isn’t our aim to be satisfied? We hope our wishes will be fulfilled so we can find wholeness and completion, and we believe these things will bring satisfaction.
We hunger and thirst for the things we desire. Do you see what I mean?
The question we all must ask ourselves is, “What do you hunger and thirst for?”
It is a sad truth that we, as Christians, often hunger and thirst for the same things the world does: stable incomes, praise from friends and neighbors, beauty, individuality, and more. We can be just as obsessed as our non-believing peers about holiday décor and the latest fashion trends, what show to watch on Netflix and how much we weigh.
But when do these things ever satisfy?
The thrill of success never lasts. Money comes and goes. Friends disappoint. Life circumstances, from pregnancy to menopause, cause your body to change in ways you can’t control. And that one unique experience is never enough.
These pursuits are maddening and futile, and they certainly don’t keep us satisfied for long.
We may think we can find wholeness with the things of this world, but we can’t.
In the midst of the chaos of our everyday lives, many of us have asked ourselves at one point or another, “What is the point of all this?”
When the object of our desire is found in this world, our anticipated thrill of satisfaction can quickly turn to disappointment and even despair.
Have you been there?
Jesus hears our cries. He knows our desperation, and one of his many words of encouragement to us is this: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6)
In his well-known Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gets straight to the heart of the matter and addresses our soul. For, ultimately, true and lasting satisfaction is a spiritual issue, not a physical one. If you feel your life is lacking or incomplete, the answer is not to bolster your income or start a new diet. The answer, rather, is to reconsider the state, livelihood, and actions of your faith.
When Jesus talks about the blessed in Matthew 5:6, he is referring to those who prioritize and commit to a single-minded, whole-hearted pursuit of Christ’s new kingdom on earth, and this means both the development of personal righteousness and engagement with social righteousness (i.e., social justice).
D.A. Carson explains Jesus’ words like this: “These people hunger and thirst, not only that they may be righteous (i.e., that they may wholly do God’s will from the heart), but that justice may be done everywhere. All unrighteousness grieves them and makes them homesick for the new heaven and earth – the home of righteousness.” (2 Pet. 3:13)
In other words, the only thing that can satisfy us, as Christ-followers, is a life centered around Christ and his kingdom. It is a life in which our heart beats passionately for evangelism and discipleship, the strengthening of the church and care for the weak and vulnerable in our society. It is a life in which we not only genuinely grieve the weight and pain of sin, but also take a bold stand against it. We speak up against injustice; we fight for the helpless and the victimized. In short, we reflect Christ’s engagement with all peoples.
As you can see, this sort of righteous living is no mere intellectual engagement. It is a righteousness that is born of our whole body, mind, and heart.
In this new year, now is the time to get our priorities straight.
Do you want to know and experience true satisfaction in your life? If so, then you must begin to pursue Christ and his kingdom as if there is no tomorrow.
Let us cry out daily, like the sons of Korah, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Ps. 42:2; 63:1). May we start every day with a hunger for God’s word (cf. Amos 8:11-14) and truly believe and accept God’s invitation for us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8) in response. May we develop noses that can detect social unrighteousness. May we respond with hearts and hands toward the righting of social ills. May we have the courage to stand up for those no one else is.
For as we pursue the things of God on this earth, not only will we find the true and everlasting satisfaction that only Christ can provide, but we also will see that the wishes and desires of this world will slowly fade away.
Published January 22, 2018