Think of a diet to help understand “hunger and thirst” for righteousness

When we diet, we don’t go hungry for the fun of it. We are hungry for a purpose—for weight loss and the better health and energy that will come from it. Though that hunger has a positive result, no one who has lost significant weight will ever say that the hunger endured in the process was pleasant or easy. Hunger hurts.

If we hunger and thirst for righteousness it will hurt at times. We will have to say “no” to things, people, activities, feelings we desire. It will not be easy.

The same word used here,  for hunger, the Greet word, peinaō,  is the same word used of  Jesus in Matt. 4 when it talks about his hunger after 40 days of fasting in the desert. Most of us cannot begin to imagine the pain of that hunger.

If we want the righteous life described here, we must learn to say “no” to self. This verse in many ways is a progression of a process of self-denial. The first two Beatitudes were about the acknowledgement of our utter spiritual poverty and our mourning over it. We then respond in meekness, humility to God and gentleness to people as we know we cannot of ourselves gain anything. In this verse we realize that the attainment of righteousness is something we can strive for, but that self-indulgence is not the path to it.

Many commentators have compared parts of the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes, practical advice from Jesus on how to live a life pleasing to him. As we look at the self-denial required if we truly hunger and thirst for righteousness, the opening verses of Proverbs are instructive:

Proverbs. . . .for attaining wisdom and discipline;for understanding words of insight; 3 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair;. . .5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance-. . .7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

The fear of the Lord, a righteous life in both Old and New Testaments, requires discipline. Hunger and thirst are required to live a God-pleasing life of righteousness. May we apply the same self-control in this pursuit that we do in dieting.

What we desire, reveals our hearts–commentaries on Matt. 5:6

Thomas Watson, a Puritan writer, explained, “Desire is the best discovery of a Christian”  What you desire explains your heart. I dare say that there is no one here that desires to go to hell. All want to go to heaven. But that is not the issue.

The issue is do you desire to be like Christ? For that is a Christian—not simply someone going to heaven, but a person in whom Jesus Christ has revealed His own righteous life. The spiritual appetite that Jesus Christ calls for is the desire to be like Christ, not simply have the benefits of Christ.

It is the desire to have Christ above all that the world offers. It is the desire for Christ that does not give up or abate because of difficulties or demands. It is the desire for Christ that does not faint at the cost of true discipleship. It is the desire for Christ that cannot be put off for lesser things, or procrastinated over while one ventures after the world [cf. Watson 124-126]. (Matthew 5:6 The Blessing of Hungering & Thirsting)

Spurgeon makes an excellent point explaining that this man is…blessed because in the presence of this hunger many meaner hungers die out. One master passion, like Aaron’s rod, swallows up all the rest. He hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and therefore he is done with the craving of lust, the greed of avarice, the passion of hate, and pining of ambition.

……..True godliness lies very much in desires. As we are not what we shall be, so also we are not what we would be. The desires of gracious men after holiness are intense, — they cause a wear of heart, a straining of the mind, till it feels ready to snap with the heavenly pull. A high value of the Lord’s commandment leads to a pressing desire to know and to do it, and this so weighs upon the soul that it is ready to break in pieces under the crush of its own longings. What a blessing it is when all our desires are after the things of God. We may well long for such longings….

David had such reverence for the word, and such a desire to know it, and to be conformed to it, that his longings caused him a sort of heart break, which he here pleads before God.

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What is the righteousness we are all to hunger and thirst after?

It is tremendously important that we are clear on what we are to hunger and thirst for because people today hunger for many things: money, toys, vacations, status, a cruise or better golf game, a faster car or classy clothes.  God does not promise that we will be filled with any of these things. Even the hungering after them is not blessed by God. If we hunger for them, that hunger is not from God.

We are to hunger and thirst for righteousness. That is the hunger and thirst God promises to fill.

Sadly, there are many false teachers today on television and in best-selling books (popularity with the world never has and never will equal popularity with God) who distort the Bible and promise a worldly prosperity if people want it enough and who “plant seeds” consisting of money given to their television program. Without exception these teachers take Bible passages out of context. Their teaching is false, deceptive, and leads to a lifestyle that is not Bible-based.

In contrast, I often remember a song we sang in a church I attended as a child, the lyrics went something like this:

This world is not my home, I’m just passing through
My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue,
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you.
If heaven’s not my home, then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

How quaint these words sound—how old fashioned. But quaint or not, they are a true representation of biblical reality. Our treasures are future and if the treasures of our heart are on earth, they are on objects that will burn.

Like the song says, we won’t feel at home in this world if we don’t desire what our neighbors desire. But If we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we will be people like Abraham who is described in Heb. 11:

By faith Abraham, . . . .made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents. . . .For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. . . . All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Can you imagine any reward greater than for God to say of you, that He is not ashamed to be called your God? Continue reading

Various Bible translations of to hunger and thirst for righteousness

Amplified:  Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied! (Amplified Bible – Lockman)
Barclay: O the bliss of the man who longs for total righteousness as a starving man longs for food, and a man perishing of thirst longs from after, for man will be truly satisfied.
ICB: Those who want to do right more than anything else are happy. God will fully satisfy them.
KJV: Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Philips: Happy are those who are hungry and thirsty for goodness, for they will be fully satisfied! (New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest:  Spiritually prosperous are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, because they themselves shall be filled so as to be completely satisfied. (Eerdmans)
Young’s Literal: Happy those hungering and thirsting for righteousness–because they shall be filled.

Those whose deepest cravings are after spiritual blessings–commentaries on Matt.5:6

Many of the commentators studied for this week reminded me that this may be one of the hardest passages to understand because most of us in America have never experienced true hunger or thirst. Perhaps by reading some of these we will, nevertheless have a greater understanding of this passage:

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Commentatory by: David Guzik

Blessed are those who hunger: This describes a profound hunger that cannot be satisfied by a snack. This is a longing that endures and is never completely satisfied on this side of eternity.

Hunger and thirst for righteousness: We see Christians hungering for many things: power, authority, success, comfort, happiness – but how many hunger and thirst for righteousness?

This is hunger for complete righteousness, not just enough to soothe a guilty conscience.

For they shall be filled: This is a strange filling that both satisfies us and keeps us longing for more

Commentary by Matthew Henry:

1. Righteousness is here put for all spiritual blessings. See Ps. 24:5; ch. 6:33. . . . Our desires of spiritual blessings must be earnest and importunate; “Give me these, or else I die; every thing else is dross and chaff, unsatisfying; give me these, and I have enough, though I had nothing else.’’ Hunger and thirst are appetites that return frequently, and call for fresh satisfactions; so these holy desires rest not in any thing attained, but are carried out toward renewed pardons, and daily fresh supplies of grace. The quickened soul calls for constant meals of righteousness, grace to do the work of every day in its day, as duly as the living body calls for food.

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