Beatitudes: Blessed are those who Hunger 
and Thirst for Righteousness

By: Bill Bratt

One of Jesus' earliest sermons was the "Sermon on the Mount" and He gave eight Beatitudes to His disciples.

'Beatitudes' are defined as 'Supreme blessings or happiness.' 'Blessed' is defined as 'Made sacred or consecrated', 'bringing happiness.'

Let's read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, "And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. {2} Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: {3} "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {4} Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. {5} Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. {6} Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. {7} Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. {8} Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. {9} Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. {10} Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {11} "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. {12} "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Letís focus in on the fourth beatitude in verse 6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled."

First letís look at the definition of Ďhungerí: "A craving or urgent need for food, a weakened condition brought about by prolonged lack of food."

What does it mean to Ďthirstí? "Having a strong desire, to crave vehemently and urgently, and a desire or need to drink."

To hunger and thirst is to have a craving, "to ask or demand, to want greatly, to yearn for, to have a strong or inward desire" for food and drink.

Physically we would satisfy our craving for food and drink by eating some food and drinking some liquid. Think about a very hot humid summer day and you have been working for several hours doing yard work and you are very thirsty and you are longing for a big tall glass of cold ice water to satisfy your thirst.

Now letís think about the spiritual. We are to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

What is righteousness? Righteousness is defined as: "Acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin."

Righteousness is doing what is right. How do we know what is right and what is wrong? What is the Bible definition of Righteousness? Psalms 119 verse172 gives the answer: "For all Your commandments are righteousness." Godís Ten Commandments tells us what is right and what is wrong. By obeying Godís Ten Commandments we can strive to be righteous. If we break any of Godís Commandment then we have sinned. What is the Bible definition of sin? 1 John 3 verse 4 tells us, "For sin is the transgression of the law." So why should we strive to keep Godís Commandments? The apostle Paul gives the answer in Romans 6 verse 23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Now we see that sin leads to death and striving for righteousness leads to eternal life.

What did Jesus tell His disciples to seek after? "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). Jesus gave us two points to seek after. The first point is about the Ďgospelí which is the good news of the kingdom of God (Mark 1:1, 14, Matthew 24:14, 28:19-20). The second point that Jesus gave was to "seek Godís righteousness." We are to live our lives in obedience to God and His commandments and to live without sin.

Now we are all human and we sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). What do we do? We must repent (Acts 2:38). The apostle John tells us in 1 John 2 verse 1, "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. {2} And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. {3} Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments."

What is Godís view of righteousness?

"For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright (Psalms 11:7).

We are the upright and we must repent and live righteously by keeping Godís commandments so we donít suffer the consequences of sin. This is how we are blessed and happy.

Letís look at the example of John the Baptistís parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth, in Luke 1 verse 6, "They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."

How can we walk blameless before the Lord? "Jesus said, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' and 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"" (Matthew 22:37-40).

James tells us to "Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. {8} Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" (James 4:7-8).

Notice that we are blessed when we hunger and thirst for righteousness. We must have a craving for doing what is right and keeping Godís commandments, and loving His way of life.

Each beatitude has a reward associated with it. This beatitude ends with, "For they shall be filled." To be filled is to gratify your need and be satisfied. To be satisfied is to be at peace with God and fellowship with Him through prayer and Bible Study.

William Barclay in the ĎDaily Study Bible Seriesí on page 102 expands this beatitude to say: "O the Bliss of the man who longs for total righteousness as a starving man longs for food, and a man perishing of thirst longs for water, for that man will be truly satisfied."

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