Everyone hungers and thirsts for something; for fame and success; for wealth and possessions; for health and happiness. But the words used by Jesus in this 4th Be-attitude are particularly strong ones, with the hungry being the starving (Luke 15 v 16) and the thirsty being the dying (John 19 v 28.) They convey a desperate and urgent sense of need; a deep longing and yearning. But for what? Not for those things mentioned above, but rather – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Blessing and happiness come from desiring after righteousness (Matthew 6 v 33.) According to the Bible there are three kinds of righteousness:-
1 – Saving Righteousness.
Although this is not the righteousness referred to here it deserves mention, because the other two kinds of righteousness flow out of it. Such saving righteousness cannot be earned or merited by the living of a good life, because such self righteousness is unacceptable to God (Isaiah 64 v 6.) This was something that Saul of Tarsus had to discover (Philippians 3 v 4 – 11) as he abandoned his own self righteousness in favour of receiving the gift of the righteousness of Christ (Romans 1 v 17 & 2 Corinthians 5 v 21.)
Challenge – Are you still trusting in your own righteousness; or have you been clothed in the righteousness of Christ?
2 – Sanctified Righteousness.
This demonstrates the reality of saving righteousness as it manifests itself in character and conduct that are pleasing to God, for Father God’s greatest desire is that his children might be Christ like (Romans 8 v 29.) This process occurs are we partner with God (Philippians 2 v 12 & 13) allowing him by his Spirit to produce a crop of spiritual fruit in our lives that replicates the character of Jesus (Galatians 5 v 22 & 23.) Such a transformation will not happen overnight, but is a gradual and life long process of spiritual formation – “until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4 v 19.)
Challenge – Do you have that hunger and thirst to be Christ like through sanctified righteousness?
3 – Social Righteousness.
This also demonstrates the reality of saving righteousness as God’s children hunger and thirst for righteous social transformation in their communities, nation and world (Proverbs 14 v 34.) The church needs to rediscover what it really means to be – “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5 v 13) as it holds back moral decay and stands in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets crying out for social justice in international, national and local life, as well as in home and family life.
Challenge – Do you have that hunger and thirst for righteous social transformation?
Promise & Reward.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness FOR THEY WILL BE FILLED.” Saving righteousness apart, the hunger and thirst to be filled with more of the righteousness of Jesus will go on, as will the hunger and thirst for a more righteous world. But there is a day coming when those who desire such things will be filled when they stand faultless and blameless before Christ and are transformed into his image (1 John 3 v 2); and when his Kingdom of righteousness comes in all its fullness and glory (Revelation 11 v 15.)
Theme: “A healthy appetite!”
Reading: Galatians 5 v 16 – 26
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Chris Hughes