Part four of notes I’ve made while studying the Beatitudes. Part three is here.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Last time I confessed that I wasn’t entirely certain what “meekness” entailed- and I will make the same confession with “righteousness”. I’ve always understood that righteousness is a good thing to want, and to be righteous is a good thing to be, but I’d never really thought about what it meant.
God is frequently described as “righteous” in the Old Testament- there, we also see that it is a legal term to denote someone who is not guilty of some ethical, moral, or legal transgression. For example, in Genesis 6:9, Noah is declared as being righteous because he is blameless and walks faithfully with God.
That is, the reference point for righteousness is God, so when we seek righteousness, we seek godliness, or Christ-likeness.
In the context of the beatitudes, we’ve so far discussed how the Kingdom of God starts with the realisation of spiritual bankruptcy, the mourning that results from a broken relationship with God, and the humility resulting from acknowledging this lowly position, we see that the next phase is to be hungry and thirsty for God’s righteousness, to desire conformity with the mind of God [holiness]. And to know God is the most satisfying thing in the universe.
As sinful human beings, the desire for holiness is often intermittent or patchy. We are happy to be holy in some areas in our lives, but not in others. Jesus is saying those in the Kingdom of God who long to know God’s mind in each and every area of his or her life- those who desire absolute holiness. A good example would be David’s attitude in Psalm 51. The whole of this Psalm reflect David’s acknowledgement of his lack of righteousness before God, and his desire to be made righteous again.
Complete righteousness in this life is impossible, but that does not mean that we should give up. Jesus promises that those who hunger and thirst will be satisfied.
This promise has both temporal and eternal implications. Those who accept the free gift of God’s grace through faith are justified (declared righteous) in God’s eyes, and have no fear of the last judgement. They will spend eternity with him, in all righteousness, where they will hunger and thirst no more.
Thus, with this certain hope, we have peace with God. Not only that, we need no longer serve sin as our master (Romans 5-7). We are free to pursue a life of holiness, and not be slaves to sin, a process known as sanctification. Those in the Kingdom of God will pursue this righteousness, not here and there, but as part of their very being, being led to conformity to God’s will by listening to the word and through prayer.
Ultimate satisfaction awaits.