Matthew 5:6 // Blessed are Those Who Hunger and Thirst

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. -Matthew 5:6 (NRSV)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says "I know Him" but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says He abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked. -1 John 2:1-6 (ESV)

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. -Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)

- - - - -

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness..."

Do you really hunger and thirst for righteousness?  Do you long for righteousness? Are you really desperate for it?

These are usually the questions I hear in association with this verse. Lots of focus on being hungry and thirsty, but not so much focus on righteousness. I understand what hunger and thirst mean in this context, but often I miss what righteousness is all about.

And how can I hunger and thirst for something I truly don't understand?

I think the first place to start in understanding is with our natural inclination. I naturally seek self-righteousness... I want to prove myself. I want to do good so that I look good. I am quick to justify my bad decisions and even quicker to show off my accomplishments. I put myself in positions where I am superior to others because it makes me feel good about myself. And in most facets of life, it is really easy to seek pride.

But my efforts do not leave me filled. In fact, they leave me feeling more empty and extremely tired. It is so much work to try to be perfect, or at least to try and convince everyone else that I am perfect. All the while, on the inside I am doubting and hating myself for not living up to the impossible standards and perceptions that I have created.

My desperate seeking for self-righteousness leaves me completely unsatisfied.

So how do I hunger and thirst for true righteousness? What does that mean? How can I be filled?

"Jesus the righteous." I am in love with this definition of Jesus. 'Righteous' means to be morally justifiable, acting in accordance with the law, free from guilt or sin.

And Jesus is fully righteous. He followed the commands the Father. He was free from sin. He lived His life in full accordance to the words the Father had given Him. He never faltered. He did not try to prove Himself or live in superiority to others. But instead, He humbled Himself and put Himself last...even to the point of dying, all so we might share in His righteousness.

So how do we live righteously? What does living out Jesus' righteousness in our lives look like? How can we hunger and thirst for it?

I believe that it starts with love. In the Philippians passage, Paul starts by saying that he prays that their love may abound more and more. This abundance of love leads to discernment and a blameless walk. That as we grow in love, so does our ability to pin-point God at work and our ability to live a life without blame. As Paul writes, these are glorious fruits of righteousness.

And John puts it this way: that the love of God is perfected in those that keep His word. When we increasingly love God, we increasingly want to obey Him. We want to know His words and commandments and we want to keep them. The more we know Him and love Him the more we are able to walk blamelessly. In other words, we seek to walk the ways in which He walked.

To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to desperately seek Jesus' example in all that we do. This is so different than trying to achieve and succeed on our own. It is so beyond fighting for the spot light or seeking approval or a "following." And it is extraordinarily filling.

Self-righteous pursuits will always leave us feeling empty, with a strong desire to do more, try harder, or be better. They are never ending and always self-deprecating. But a life fixated on pursuing Jesus' righteousness is one of freedom, power, and satisfaction.

Through His righteousness, we are not only justified for heaven, but we are also filled with the joy and with praise for all that He has done for us.

With that said, today, we challenge you to long for Him. To take the time to move away from self-righteous desires and into a growing acknowledgement of His commands. Like Paul, we pray that your love would abound more and more, so that you can live a life fully pleasing to Him.

Thank you for joining us! If you have enjoyed today's devotion, please help us by sharing it with others. You can do so using the social media icons below.

Kate, Declare Glory