Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
The Lord began his famous Sermon on the Mount with a series of verses that have come to be known as the Beatitudes. This verse is planted squarely in the middle of this section. All the Beatitudes coming before it points to it, and all of the ones following it, proofs issued out of it. It is important to understand what our Lord is driving home here. They are the Be-attitudes and not the Do-attitudes. Being comes before doing, for what we do is always determined by who we are.
The Beatitudes are not a series of rules, such as the Ten Commandments, by which we are to live. The Ten Commandments have to do with action; the Beatitudes have to do with attitudes. The Ten Commandments have to do with conduct; the Beatitudes have to do with character. Why is it imperative that we believers incarnate these Beatitudes into our very being? It is because our actions flow from our attitudes and our conduct issues out of our character. Let’s take a journey down this path toward the Spirit-controlled life
THE PATH TOWARD THE LIFE OF BLESSING (Matthew 3:5-5)
This path begins with the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” There is no premium to be found in poverty here. Note these are the poor in spirit. That is, blessed are the ones who realize their total abject poverty, spiritually speaking, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ.
The nest step along the path is found in the second beatitude: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” It is not enough to simply realize that without Christ we are poverty stricken spiritually. Blessing emanates from the fact that we are burdened by it, grieved at our spiritual condition, and actually mourn over the fact. Isaiah got to this place and exclaimed, “Woe is me! (Isaiah 6:5). Job said, “I abhor myself” (Job 42:6). Peter said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” (Luke 5:8).
The final step in this part of the path is found in the next beatitude: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” The picture of this Greek word, that we translate into English as “meek,” is of an animal that has been domesticated. For example, it is a wild stallion that is ridden and “broken” by a cowboy so that it begins to go, turn, or stop with a slight move of the bridle’s reins. The stallion’s will has been broken and submitted to the master’s will. And so it is with believers who know something of the Spirit-controlled life. First, they realize that without Christ, they are poverty stricken spiritually. This brings a burden to their hearts, and they mourn over their spiritual neglect. This is followed by their coming under the control of their Master, such that their will is lost in their Master’s will. Thus, we join Jesus in his Gethsemane plea: “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
THE PASSAGE INTO THE LIFE OF BLESSING (Matthew 5:6)
Now at the fourth beatitude, we arrive at the passageway into the life of blessing: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” It is not those who are hungering and thirsting for happiness who are being satisfied. It is those who strive for the righteousness of Christ in their own lives. The real irony is that the satisfied ones are not those who have arrived at righteousness but those who “hunger and thirst” for it. There is a paradoxical principal at play here. The believer is one who is hungering and thirsting and at the same time being filled in the process. At my former church there was a large ministry for the homeless people of our city. As many as four hundred beds housed multitudes of men and women each night, and on some days many times more than that were fed hot meals. I noticed something about the men who were truly hungry. I would watch them as they stood in line to enter the building. A hungry man is a humble man. Many a man stood in that line, perhaps a dirty ball cap rolled up in his hands, as he waited for a meal with his head bowed in humility. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Those being filled with God’s best are those who are hungering and thirsting for the things of God with a humble spirit.
THE PROOFS ISSUED OUT OF THE LIFE OF BLESSING (Matthew 5:7-10)
The first three beatitudes show us the path, the middle one shows us the passageway, and the final beatitudes reveal the proof that a person is living the Spirt-controlled life. The first proof is found here: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Having received mercy in our thirst for righteousness, our first reaction is to show mercy to those around us. Show me someone who is hungering for righteousness, and I’ll show you someone who is showing mercy. On the other hand, show me someone who has no mercy on others, and I will show you someone who has not walked down the path to blessing, mush less entered the passageway.
The next proof of a Spirit-controlled life is found in these words: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” It becomes as natural as water flowing downhill for the individual who is pursuing God to have a pure heart in motives and morals. The third proof is found in the next beatitude: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Note that Christ pronounces a blessing on the “peacemakers,” not the peace lovers. These peacemakers are the active promoters of unity among the family of God. And note that they are not made sons of God by this outward manifestation, but are “called” sons of God. They are recognized by others as such. Show me someone who tries to sow seeds of discord, and I will show you someone who is not thirsting after the things of God. On the other hand, show me believers who are pursuing God’s heart, and I will show you people living in love and unity with those around them.
As you mediate on these words of Christ, ask yourself Am I extending mercy even to those who may not be deserving? Is my heart pure? Am I promoter of love and unity with those around me?
Finally, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Show me someone who never encounters spiritual obstacles, and I will show you someone not hungry for the things of God. If we are not meeting the devil head-on from time to time, we are most likely going the same way he is headed! Often one of the proofs of the Spirit-controlled life is spiritual confrontation and even conflict “for righteousness sake.”
It is interesting to note that these Beatitudes begin in verse 3 and end in verse 10 with the same promise: “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Could this be God’s subtle way of reminding us that “our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), that although we live and interact in this physical realm, we are, in fact, members of another kingdom – one that lasts throughout the endless ages of eternity? As you contemplate this verse, meditate of the fact that God has a life of blessing for you and remember that being comes before doing, for what we do is always determined by who we are. Or, in the believer’s case, whose we are! “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Your servant in Christ, From “The Joshua Code” by O.S. Hawkins
Pastor Jack 2012, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN
The Scripture readings and sermon titles for worship in April are:
April 7th: The Sacrament of The Lord’s Supper
Isaiah 43:16-21; Philippians 3:4b-14; John 12:1-8
Sermon Title – “And Love is its Name”
April 14th: Palm Sunday
Luke 22:54-62; Luke 23:32-46;
Sermon Title – “All the Characteristics in This Play”
April 21st: Easter Sunday / Communion
Sermon Title – “Becoming Resurrected People”
April 28th: Acts 5:17-32; Psalm 150; John 20:19-31
Sermon Title – “A New Take on the Story about Doubting Thomas"