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.
Filed under: Beatitude #4: Blessed are those who hunger...., Meaning of "Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness" | Tagged: Beatitudes, BEATITUDES COMMENTARY, Righteousness, Sermon on the Mount | Leave a comment »