Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Beatitudes: Thirsting for Righteousness

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

What is it to hunger and thirst for righteousness? Hunger and thirst are strong desires for food and water, things which are both needful and satisfying. Jesus is saying that His disciples will have a craving for righteousness. They will value righteousness like food and water. Righteousness will bring them satisfaction and delight.

This hunger for righteousness includes our desire for a righteous status before God and our desire to see righteousness prevail in the world, but judging from the use of righteousness in the surrounding context (5:10, 20), it primarily refers to our desire to be righteous in heart and deed. This is part of repentance. Not only do you recognize your poverty (5:3) and mourn over your sins (5:4), but you turn to God and a desire for renewed obedience. Jesus had shown this hunger for righteousness in the temptation in the prior chapter when He told the devil that He would live not by bread alone, but by the words of God (4:4). In John 4:34, Jesus said His food was to do the will of the one who sent Him. In a similar way, the disciples of Jesus hunger and thirst to do the will of God and to be righteous in every respect. They treasure righteousness. They are attracted to righteousness. They crave righteousness.

Why are they blessed? Usually we consider the full blessed, not the hungry and thirsty. But those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, because God shall satisfy them by giving them righteousness. God gives them Christ’s righteousness through faith, reckoning it as their own. God is putting all things to right, and will do so definitively at the end of the age. God is infusing Christ’s righteousness into His people, making them more righteous by their union with Christ. Our conformity to righteousness is imperfect in this life, but it shall be complete in the age to come, and we shall delight in "new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13). But woe to those who are full and satisfied now, who do not long for this perfect righteousness. Those who do not hunger and thirst for righteousness shall not be satisfied.

Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? I do not ask if are you righteous in everything you do, but I ask: do you desire righteousness? Do you seek after righteousness? Do you prize the righteousness of Christ, imputed to your account and infused into your being?

May you hunger and thirst for righteousness, more and more! Having mourned for your sins, earnestly desire what is right and just. Love righteousness and delight in its beauty. Crave righteousness like food and drink, desiring to satisfy yourself with it. The craving may be frustrating, for you will not gain it all at once. But keep your eye on the goal. Seek it as a disciple of Christ, and you shall find it by grace.

And if you hunger and thirst after righteousness with faith in Jesus, you are blessed, for you will be satisfied. Even now, you enjoy the righteousness of Christ and stand before God justified and accepted. Even now, that indestructible seed of righteousness has been implanted in you and is growing. One day, not sinful desire, not corruption, but pure righteousness shall be yours.


For prior posts in this series, see:
1. "The Beatitudes: Introduction"
2. "The Beatitudes: The Poor in Spirit"
3. "The Beatitudes: Those Who Mourn"

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