Blessed Are They Which Do Hunger and Thirst After Righteousness
A guest post by Jeremy Thornton.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
When was the last time you were truly hungry or thirsty?
We all begin to be hungry or thirsty during the day and we normally are able to remedy the problem without any difficulties, and we thank our heavenly Father for His providential care that provides us with the necessities of life, but when was the last time you were hungry or thirsty and was unsure if you would be able to find food or drink?
In my late teens and early twenties, I was fortunate enough to be able to help my dad as he cut hay for everyone and it was my job to haul the square bales and deliver them to the customers. Every day we would haul hay from late morning until all the hay was out of the field, sometimes working late into the night.
Of all of the people we delivered hay to, there was one man in particular that I always enjoyed seeing. My dad gave this man the nickname of “Easy Money” (I’m not sure why) and we would take hay to him several times each summer, but what made our trips to his barn so enjoyable was the big ice chest loaded down with cold drinks that he had waiting on us after the hay was put into the barn.
I can remember being in the hayfields and being so hot, and then going into the barn loft and not being able to feel any breeze blow and would always be so thirsty. After a long day of working in the hayfields, we would come home and I would be able to receive my payment for a long day’s work (my dad would always tell me “Boy, you get your pay at the supper table” and if we are being honest, I probably was being paid more than what I deserved) and there was never a time when my parents had to ask me if I was hungry and ready for something to eat after working all day.
When is the last time you have been hungry or thirsty to that extent?
In the middle of the “Beatitudes” of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), Jesus says the hungry and thirsty will be blessed. This, of course, is not referring to physical hunger or thirst, but rather, this is a reference to spiritual hunger and thirst, but what does Jesus mean by this statement?
Are we hungering and thirsting for righteousness?
State of Being.
Throughout the teachings of Jesus, He often used illustrations to help those who heard Him relate to what was being said and help grasp the meaning of what was being said.
We may have to examine some of the statements that are made and define the ones to whom Jesus is referring (“the poor in spirit”, “they that mourn”), but when Jesus uses the illustration of those that hunger and thirst, there is no need to define that phrase. We are all familiar with the pains of hunger and the desperation of thirsting and have experienced both to some degree.
The complication of the statement made in Matthew 5:6 is the hungering and thirsting mentioned is not for food or drink, but is for “righteousness.”
Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines “righteousness” as “the character or quality of being right or just. It is used to denote the attribute of God (Rom. 3:5), the context of which shows that the righteousness of God means essentially the same as His faithfulness, or truthfulness, that which is consistent with His own nature and promises…” Webster’s dictionary adds that “righteousness” is being “free from guilt or sin.”
With this definition given, this beatitude is repeated or perhaps stated in a different way throughout the Scriptures.
We are reminded to abstain from all appearances of evil (1 Thess. 5:22), we are told to walk in the light (1 John 1:7-9), we are told to let our light shine and glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:13-16), and a host of other passages that remind us of the necessity to have no part with unfruitful works of darkness, keeping ourselves pure and holy as we serve a pure and Holy God.
State of Blessing.
Those that have a desire for being right, or free from guilt or sin will be blessed as they will have their desires fulfilled.
Without the help of God, man is unable to attain righteousness and will never be able to attain moral perfection. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), causing us to be unrighteous, but righteousness can be imputed upon someone because of the righteousness and faithfulness of our great Propitiation (1 John 4:10), Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, sent to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29), knowing no sin but giving Himself on our behalf and by His stripes we are made clean (1 Peter 2:20-24).
Those who will obey His commands, though they be guilty of sin, can have the opportunity to have those sins washed away in baptism (Acts 22:16), and live a righteous life, walking in the newness of life (Rom. 6:1-4).
Keeping the commands of Jesus, and continuing to follow after Him, we can have the hope of being resurrected unto life (John 5:28-29), and having our desire for righteousness fulfilled for eternity.
Jeremy Thornton preaches for the Highway 77 Church of Christ in Marion, Arkansas. I’ve known Jeremy for several years and appreciate his good work in the Lord’s kingdom!