“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Matthew 5:6 NIV
Today, I’ve spent the majority of the day cleaning my house. I realize not everyone will likely be able to relate to this, but for me, when I clean, I get so in the zone that I often forget to eat or drink anything. As such, the second I started to type this blog, my stomach began to gurgle, and continues to do so as I write. As a stereotypical middle-class American, this is the most common way I experience hunger, and conveniently for me, when I decide I want the gurgling to stop, I’ll simply walk to the kitchen and grab whatever I’d like and however much of it I’d like and my problem will be over until it’s time for my next meal, where I will once again go back to the kitchen and eat until I am no longer experiencing hunger.
Feeling the Hunger Pangs
I often feel like my relationship with God ends up getting treated the same way my hunger today post-cleaning worked. After being distracted with other things, I start to feel a little bit of a gurgle that perhaps I am not in tune with God, and so at my leisure, I pick up my Bible and read a verse and/or turn on one worship song. Then I feel all set until the next time I start to feel a little bit out of touch with God and so I’ll go and repeat the cycle, taking just enough time to feel full and move on with my day to day life. Being 100% transparent, this is a very common temptation for me. It’s a cycle I’m way more familiar with then I would prefer to admit.
Righteousness is a word often used in our churches and in scripture, but as I dug into Matthew 5:6 more, it really sunk in for the first time just how much the actual state of being righteous is something that we are guaranteed to fail at. To be righteous, is defined as being morally right or justifiable. As hard as I work to be “good,” I’m bound to fail. I suppose that’s why Jesus says in John 4:14, “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Jesus knew that as hard we might like to try to “stay full” of his goodness, we would always need to come back to Him to be refilled and stay satisfied in Him.
Staying Hungry for Jesus
Using modern terminology, when Jesus said to “stay hungry” for righteousness, he knew we’d have a temptation to dull ourselves to our need for his righteousness. However, just because we do not constantly feel the hunger since we have other things we fill our time, if we do not choose to hunger after God, we may miss out on the blessing of getting filled with His righteousness. In American society, “stay hungry” is often used to motivate someone to work hard and become successful in life, ideally culminating in significant amounts of money flowing through their hands due to them staying motivated and working hard.
Back to John 4:14, here’s a friendly reminder that the money we gain from staying hungry for life’s successes will eventually flow through our hands and no longer be ours, either because we spend it, or because we breathe our final breath and our time here on earth will come to an end. We will eventually need to release all that we accumulate that is “of this world.” When Jesus says to “stay hungry” for righteousness and we will be filled, that meets a need far beyond our daily grind, but since death can seem so far away and our daily life is always before us, unfortunately it can also mean that staying hungry and thirsty for righteousness can easily take a back to seat to things like making money, time with friends or family, streaming shows, or yes, even cleaning.
Given how I live in America, the odds of me ever experiencing hunger and thirst to the point of death is pretty unlikely, and even if I were to imagine a situation where perhaps I got lost in the woods, my brain always leads me to believe I’d somehow be able to convince myself I could capture a live animal and eat it or somehow I’d magically know which berries are edible and would pull through and then become famous for my heroic tales. So essentially, I do not have a fear of ever not having the option of responding to my gurgling tummy with a snack or meal. For a little bit of money I can always head to a grocery store and load up a basket full of items to create my own mini-buffet at home. If that were not an option though, I wonder how that would change my response to hunger? If I knew what it was like to not have the assurance I would eventually get food, would I hunger and thirst differently?
Resisting a Fast Food Faith
We serve a God who does not taunt us or hide from us, but instead says if we seek Him we will find Him. In my own life though, that can easily lead me to a place of treating Him like a drive-thru. If I’m hungry for a spiritual meal, I can just head to a church’s night of worship and feel better. However, it’s not a meal that truly satisfies; it does not lead me to a place of remaining hungry and thirsty for more of Him, and therefore, it does not lead to blessing and the filling He promises. I want to stay hungry for Jesus and His kingdom, it’s the only thing eternal in this life. I want to prioritize things correctly, God first and everything else to follow.
Before you get distracted by your next steps for the day, I want to encourage you to do what I’m about to ask myself to do: Pause, get quiet, and take a moment to ask God to help you “stay hungry” for His righteousness. I can personally often get caught up in a mentality that says I have to make myself better, and I forget that in as much I know I’m not capable of making myself righteous, God knows that too, and He offers to be a “friend who sticks closer than a brother.” One of the most freeing things of my teenage years was realizing how real and transparent I could keep things with God. The good and the bad, God knew all along He was the secret sauce to curing what ails me and He’s a lot less afraid of my mess than I am. So rather than cleaning ourselves up first and then getting hungry for God, let’s get hungry for God and He will joyfully and skillfully help us get clean over and over again through the generous gift of His righteousness.
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THE BEATITUDES MELODY
Abigail Houston from Melodically Memorizing wrote and recorded this melody to help us write The Beatitudes across our hearts! We LOVE her ministry and passion for God’s Word! We hope this song blesses you as we memorize this passage throughout the “Blessed are…” Blog Series!
Find her on instagram @melodicallymemorizing
MATTHEW 5:3-12 [THE BEATITUDES]
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.