#20 What the Gospels Teach – Hunger for Righteousness – Matthew 5:6

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

In the genuine believer there is an actual and humanly insatiable appetite for righteousness.  It could be argued that one of the primary marks of true conversion is genuine hunger for righteousness, and that hunger for righteousness is indeed a supernatural hunger.  The unbelieving religious man is always trying to stomach righteousness against his own will, like being forced to eat a meal they cannot tolerate, or forced to take a medicine that has an awful aftertaste.  Righteousness is not the natural desire of the unbeliever.

To the believer this verse ought to give you great comfort and assurance, to the unbeliever it ought to give great fear and trepidation.  I recall one day down at Sidecut Metropark (a place I go to be alone) I was walking down near a bridge and contemplating my actions, and I was broken and distraught.  There was this awful feeling of ‘when am I going to get this life right?’ ‘am I ever going to overcome sin?’  ‘if I could only love the Lord more’ ‘when will I ever get it right’ ‘why do I struggle?’ ‘I just desire righteousness, but never seem to achieve it’ and as I was walking along the path in total despondency Matthew 5:6 came to my memory and flooded my soul with light unspeakable.  The very despondency I felt were the hunger pangs of righteousness... and I heard the words of Jesus “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness!...”  and then the promise “for they SHALL be satisfied!”  My very longing for righteousness which through me into a ‘slough of despondency’ but the words of Christ screamed out to me that the very hunger I had for righteousness was proof of blessedness, and salvation that was given to me.  In hindsight it looked like the agony of Romans 7 was playing itself out in my soul, and yet the glory or Romans 8:1 shown upon me in the words “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness!”

Again, I say the context is important.  Recall that Jesus is speaking to the small group of disciples, and is giving them great teachings with which to discern the activities of God among men.  How were the disciples to know when someone had genuine conversion... how were they to know that the message of the Gospel took root in someone, and that they merely were not enamored by the miracles and wonders... blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness.  When dealing with the gospel whether sharing it with youth, or with adults, when you sense a genuine hunger and thirst for righteousness among them you have great reason for hope.  At the same time when you sense that someone is trying to live rightly but they are doing it against their will and have no real desire or hunger for righteousness, you should continue to labor with basic gospel teachings because there is good reason to believe that person is not yet converted.

Jesus gives this warning to people who came to see Him, and it exposes them pretty harshly, at the same time I think He would have these words for a number of people in our churches today.

Jesus answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal."  (John 6:26-27 NASB)

Be of good cheer believer... your desire for righteousness is evidence of your blessed state before God.  Be afraid imposter... your attempts at righteousness that go against your real desire are proof that you are still at enmity with God.

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