Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6
Do you remember the last time your stomach growled? Not the last time you felt like you wanted to eat something and ran to the fridge during a commercial, but the last time you were physically hungry. Most of us keep ourselves so well nourished (and well caffeinated) that we don’t really experience hunger. I know that I could probably live off of my reserves for several weeks. (Did I mention that I’ve lost 17 pounds?)
Our lack of hunger is actually an important reason to fast. Fasting shows us overall how much we can do without. I don’t fast regularly, but when I do it’s significant.
But, let’s get back to feeling hungry or pretending that we did once. Hunger and thirst signify that our bodies are in need of something essential. If we don’t refresh our bodies, they will stop working. (Remember that today. “I need this latte or my body might stop working.” Just kidding).
Spiritually, Jesus said people who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed. Righteousness is an oft misunderstood term, because usually it’s proceeded by “self.” Self-righteousness means that I have determined what is righteous and what is not. As long as I live well by my rules, which are only part of God’s rules, then I feel righteous. The prophet Isaiah didn’t think very much of this kind of righteousness: “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Rule-keeping was not what Jesus had in mind here.
Righteousness is impossible for believers to achieve on our own, yet it is something that we crave. We want a life that is no longer dominated by sin, even the socially “acceptable” ones. We desire to shun earthly attitudes. To live our lives entirely clean, inside and out, is our ultimate goal. But, how do we get there?
Jesus said that those who are starving for righteousness, those who are parched from the ways of this world, will be filled. That sounds pretty good, except that we’ve already filled our lives with other things. Most of these things are even good things.
If our lives are already stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey, the thought of being any more filled is repulsive. I’m not saying that we need to clear our calendars in order to devote copious hours to serving God. I just think that most of us are so busy with all of the details and activities of life that we don’t even think about God. I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty. I’m saying this because it is true.
God has a better life for you than the one you are living, and you are missing it. God has a kinder, gentler version of you in mind. God has fulfilling relationships in store for you, not draining ones. God has meaningful work in the plans, not tedious, unfulfilling work. God wants to fill your life, but you need to allow yourself to hunger.
Rather than just filling up time with activity, entertainment and work, and watching our lives pass by, God wants our attention. God wants us to want Him and what He has to give. Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
What are you seeking God for today? How do you deeply desire for your life to change? Maybe you’ve even allowed yourself to stop feeling that. God wants you to live fully alive and completely fulfilled. You just have to be hungry for it.
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