March 7, 2015

Do You Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

Posted in Teaching tagged , , , , , at 5:33 pm by tclickenger

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

I love how detailed and specific God is throughout scripture. Jesus, being one with the Father, is just as specific with His words. God is not slipshod with what He says. With the knowledge and wisdom He has concerning all things He is masterful in using words to mean so many things at the same time and all of them being true. I don’t know about you but I have a tendency to gloss over the details of scriptures. In the past, as I was reading this scripture, I would unconsciously read “hunger and thirst” and kind of combine them as “strong desire” because I thought that they both express strong physical desires. Looking at the details though, God could have expressed this with either “hunger” or “thirst” but He chose to use both. This begs the question, “Why?”

While Jesus was expressing spiritual longings, He is using desires that we are physically familiar with. So, to answer why, lets explore what hunger means to us physically and what thirst means to us physically. This may sound shocking to you but hunger is not really a desire. When our body is in need of food it produces the feeling of hunger to make us aware of this need. We then desire, seek out and consume food to relieve this feeling. The same goes for thirst. Our body is in need of water and so it produces the feeling of thirst to make us aware of this need.

Hunger then is the awareness of our need for one thing and thirst is the awareness or our need for another thing. The reason Jesus said that “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” is because in order to achieve righteousness we must recognize our spiritual need of two separate things. Once we become aware of our need, a desire is produced within us to satisfy that need. We seek out and make that thing we need apart of what we are.

Hunger is a spiritual picture of the awareness of our personal need for knowledge and understanding. In order for us to be righteous we need to have an understanding of what righteous ways are. We long for to know God’s will. The word, the truth, the extension of Himself that clearly shows us life as it truly is, not as the world misrepresents it. Through our study of the word of God, the bread of life; through seeking out shepherds who provide proper nourishment for our level of growth and development, we gain knowledge of the principles that put order to our activity, relieving our longing for spiritual food.

Thirst is a spiritual picture of the awareness of our need for active obedience. In order for us to be righteous we also need to be obedient to the ways we know to be right. The book of Psalms speaks frequently about thirst. I believe David had a very deep awareness of his need for obedience when He wrote in Psalm 119:131, “I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.” I believe that David is keenly aware that it is not the commandment that satisfies his thirst but the obedience to the commandment that brings satisfaction. God was also communicating the truth of this principle when He inspired David to pen the words in Psalm 63:1, “My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for you, in a dry and weary land where there is not water.” This world that we live in is a dry and weary land. There is very little obedience to God’s ways in this world.

In the physical, both food and water are vitally important for life, but our need for water is more urgent than our need for food. We can generally survive 40 days or greater without food but we won’t last more than a week without water. The spiritual truth attached to this physical reality is that knowledge, understanding of truth, belief, or faith that we are not actively obedient to, or in other words, without works is dead, as James so poignantly put it. When we walk in submission to God’s will for our life, according to His word, we are drinking from the “spring of the water of life” (Rev. 21:6) and our life also becomes life giving. Inspiring other toward obedience and thereby “streams of living water (then) flow from (us)” (John 7:37).  Our life then is filled and overflowing.

God, my Father and King, I am thanking you for the wisdom you gave us through your Son, our anointed salvation, who with just 14 words could express volumes to His disciples. Thank you for the words of instruction for full satisfaction of the needs of my soul. That I may live and not die and be life giving to this world. In this world where bitterness is in the mouths of all who revel in sin and shallowness, I am thankful of “How sweet Your words are to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” (Psalm 119:103). I am also thankful for the Godly legacy passed to me from the words of my grandfather. Thank you for the divine arrangement that placed his bible and his words into my hand, mind and heart. I thank you and give you praise for giving those seeds to me, for causing them to grow and blossom. I pray that all these words would work in the lives of all who read them, giving practical application, giving life to the reader and flow waters of life to others around them.