“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” Matt. 5:6 (NRS)
In the movie the Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith plays Chris Gardner, a desperate individual endeavoring to save his family from dire circumstances created by his lack of employment and subsequent homelessness. Chris is given the opportunity for a job on Wall Street by a benevolent mentor who sees in him, not only hidden talent, but a “hunger and thirst” for a better life. When Jesus spoke of hungering and thirsting for righteousness, He knew the impact “kingdom living” would have on individuals in search of a “better life”. Jesus saw individuals who were spiritually hungry, starved by the empty promises of this world. The result was emaciated spirits and dry souls. The world was desperately seeking.
To be righteous (dikaios), in a broad sense, describes man as God had originally created him to be—one whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God. The believer’s righteousness is not their own but is the imputed (credited) righteousness of Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). In addition, the desire to continue living righteously before God is made possible by Jesus Christ’s presence within believers through the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that gives the believer the ability to live right and to do right (Ez. 36:25-27; Phil. 2:13).
Jesus’ invitation to righteousness was an invitation to a new way of living—kingdom living; no longer marked by hypocrisy and corruption as seen in the lives of the ruling religious leaders. Jesus invited those who sought God’s righteousness to simply “Come” (Matt. 11:28-30). This invitation would resonate with individuals in familiar terms they could easily understand—hunger and thirst.
To “hunger and thirst” for God’s righteousness indicated a strong craving that becomes the driving force in the life of the believer. The Psalmist captured this fervent yearning in Psalms 42:1-3:
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, “Where is your God?”
While hunger and thirst are terms typically used to express basic human needs, the hunger and thirst that Jesus describes in this beatitude depicts a “spiritual hunger and thirst” that finds no satisfaction in the physical realm. And what is the effect of this yearning? “It is filled!” To be filled (chortazo) implies that a desire is satisfied—refreshed, supported, and strengthened. Jesus described Himself as the true Source that satisfies the longings of mankind (John 6:22-27). Still today Jesus promises “whosoever will” that comes to Him shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Him shall never thirst (John 6:35).
The world is at enmity with those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Look at how the world responded to our Lord and Savior—they crucified Him! (John 15:20) But in spite of the persecution we may encounter or the rejection we may face, it is imperative that we stand firm and give the world the reason for our hope—a living hope that is realized both now and in eternity future (1 Pet. 3:15). Like the Apostle Paul, we can boldly announce our extreme satisfaction in serving Christ. For we know that whether abound or abased, we will be “filled” (Phil. 4:12-13). May we never lose our “hunger and thirst for the God’s righteousness.
Good to the Last Byte…
Our culture continues to seek answers to the moral and social problems of our day using man’s wisdom. Such efforts are “senseless striving” without first seeking God’s righteousness.