Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. - Matthew 5:6
We are not righteous by nature. We are sinful, broken and rebellious. We acknowledge that and admit that we have no goodness in us that should recommend us to the Lord. We might even grieve over our sin, those behaviors and attitudes that displease and alienate us from God. And if we are honest with ourselves, this humbles us and takes away from us any basis for pride or elevating ourselves over others; it makes us meek.
We have thus addressed the first three Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
But then we come to the fourth: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. This is the experience of the true Christian. As we enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we realize what we lack, we mourn it and we are made meek. But we don’t stop there. As citizens of God’s Kingdom, we come to desire what He desires. It is not enough for us to admit what we lack; we want it! We see God’s righteousness, in His Word, in His son, and we praise Him for it. What we once avoided we now see as beautiful and we yearn for it. And that desire is so intense, and so fundamental that it is like our hunger for food and thirst for water. It feels so essential to our new spiritual lives that we would waste away and die without it.
And as the Lord provides us with our daily bread, our sustenance for living, He more than generously provides us with righteousness. It is not a righteousness of our own, but it is the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ. The righteousness of His obedience is imputed to us, just as our sin is put on Him. We are at once forgiven of our wickedness and viewed by God as having the righteousness of Christ. Our hunger is ultimately, bountifully satisfied. And we can live our lives with new character and new behaviors—new righteousness—because Christ by His Spirit now lives in us.
Many things in our daily lives compete for our attention, our desire. And those feelings can become intense, to the point of comparison with physical hunger. We may hunger for companionship. We may hunger for love. We may hunger for recognition or affirmation. We may hunger for excitement or material things. But none of these will satisfy and inordinate desire, if not addressed, can become idolatry, a false god. God will not let these things satisfy us, because they are not for our ultimate good. Only He is. And if we hunger and thirst for Him, and for His righteousness, we will indeed be satisfied.