Righteousness. It’s an impossible standard to live up to for anyone other than Christ, because here is the blunt truth: everybody on the face of our planet Earth is sinful. In fact, Paul words our dilemma well when he states:
“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one’ . . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . .” – Romans 3:10-12, 23
Whoa. Makes you just want to give up, doesn’t it? Talk about a hopeless endeavor! But wait, according to Matthew 5:6, are we really blessed by how righteous we are? Let’s look at it…
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
Blessed are who? Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Let’s just be clear. It’s not those who are righteous. Notice the key verbs : hunger and thirst. Or to put it more simply, to crave. We are supposed to crave righteousness. Peter gives the best analogy:
“Like newborn infants long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.”
It’s a well-known fact – Babies need milk. I enjoy helping my mom watch two small children every Wednesday. The baby boy has a scheduled feeding time and if we miss it, he will let us know that he needs his milk! I could try to calm him with really cool toys. I could change his diaper or let him watch Disney cartoons for six hours. Would that help? Probably not. Not if the baby needs fed. Nothing will satisfy him but a warm bottle of milk. And if he doesn’t get it? What if I simply neglected his need and instead tried filling his days with toys and entertainment? He would quickly become malnourished. He may have liked a dry diaper or wanted a room full of toys, but that isn’t what he needed.
Craving righteousness can be really hard in today’s society, which encourages a pursuit of selfish ambitions. We easily get distracted with our wants and toys: A new iPad, or the latest and greatest music player. Maybe we spend our energy pursuing and studying online gaming strategies. Is there anything wrong with these pursuits? No, but it will not satisfy the human heart. It’s sort of like a Krispy Kreme diet; imagine eating only Krispy Kreme doughnuts for the rest of your life. Sounds amazing, but the effects would be disastrous. Is eating doughnuts wrong? Of course not! An unhealthy diet of doughnuts however would guarantee a life of health challenges.
So let’s take a spiritual inventory. What are we pursing in life? Do we find ourselves craving stuff; spending our time and energy pursuing what we want in this life? Or, are we hungering and thirsting after a deeper relationship with God, pursuing a life that brings Him glory? God promises satisfaction to those who pursue the latter.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness…”
Blessed is another word for happy. So, it could read “Happy are those…” Remember our baby boy? What do you think happens when I give him his bottle? Instant satisfaction. It’s exactly what he needs. No more crying. (Sometimes I even think he is smiling at me!) Now, do you think that one bottle will satisfy him for life? No. In just a few short hours, he will be reminding me again for his need of more milk. Is it not the same with us? Pursing God is not a one-time event. We don’t just tell the Lord “Thanks Lord for filling me up today, I’m good. No need to do that again!” The term hungering and thirsting implies an on-going need that is being met.
“…for they shall be satisfied.”
What does God give us that money, fame and toys cannot? What does it mean to truly be satisfied? I believe the more we learn about God, the more we realize that what this life has to offer is of no eternal value. We begin to see the world around us for what it is – temporary. The more we pursue righteousness and a relationship with God the more we want what He wants. The more our desires match His desires. The less filling our trinkets and money become, when we have a right perspective on what really matters.
Proverbs 21:21 is a great reminder when we find ourselves hungering and thirsting after worldly pursuits.
“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.”
Now that’s a promise!