Tuesday, February 21, 2012


    The fourth beatitude reads: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled" (Matt. 5:6; NKJV). The words "hunger" and "thirst" denote an intense craving for something. What Jesus is pointing to here is not just a mechanical performance, a half-hearted attempt to conform to an external set of rules, but a genuine, heart-felt desire for righteousness. If our heart is right with God, we will desire what He desires, a world governed by goodness and truth.

    Jesus' words echo those of Isaiah chapter 55: "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat . . ." (v. 1). The passage goes on to exhort us to desire what is truly good and worthwhile, viz., God Himself (v. 6), and His word (vv. 8-11). Then comes the promise: "For you shall go out with joy, And be let out with peace" (v. 12).

    The essence of righteousness is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength" (Dt. 6:5). The psalmist could say "As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" (Ps. 42:1,2). And to love God is to seek to have His will accomplished here on earth. The entire 119th Psalm is an expression of desire for God's commandments. And if we "hunger and thirst for righteousness," we "shall be filled," because that is what we shall have in the kingdom.

    Our actions are largely governed by our desires. In the long run we pretty much do what we want to do. One the problems with the modern church is its general lack of interest in God and in His righteousness. We are pretty much content to go through life pleasing ourselves and making pragmatic decisions based on our own self-interest. The result is that it is all too easy to compromise ethical principle. We are the lukewarm church of Laodicea described in Rev. 3:14-22, and the warning given there is well worth taking to heart: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent" (v. 19).

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