Righteousness

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

-Matthew 5:6


We are all familiar with hunger and thirst.  Physically it is a reality of life.  After 2-3 days of no fluids or 2-3 weeks of no nourishment

Question: how do we know when we are spiritually hungry and thirsty.  I have a theory about this.

Created in God’s image we are born with an innate, spiritual hunger and thirst for who we–humans, male and female–already are (Genesis 1:26-31) . This desire to satisfy our craving for God becomes distorted as we choose to satisfy ourselves independently of His will and write our own rules.

The desire never goes away.  By our choices, however, our sin leads us to distort and warp our desire for God into a god of our own making (Romans 1:18-32).

FINDING GOD’S WILL

This is where the logical progression of the Beatitudes makes so much sense.  For those who have chosen to meekly submit their will to God’s will the natural question is, “What is God’s will?”

For the seeker of God’s will, Jesus is very plain: you must hunger and thirst for His righteousness.  Where can it be found?  The Holy Spirit provides at least three sources for discovering God’s righteousness: 1) God’s word, 2) prayer and 3) God’s people.  The promise is that pursuing God’s righteousness will lead to satisfaction.  There are at least 4 ways this is true:

SATISFACTION

First, to Jesus’ disciples, they had the unique opportunity to witness God’s righteousness embodied in Jesus Christ Himself, day-in, day-out, over a period of three years.  Gathered around Him in this specific setting, the disciples would soon realize that this was more than just going through the motions (Matthew 5:20).

Secondly, to the crowds that were gathering around Jesus and His disciples, Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount left them astonished and amazed (Matthew 7:28-29).  Perhaps, at the time, it would convince them that not only could their won personal righteousness reach the perceived lofty nature of their religious leaders but, to be obedient to Jesus’ teachings, must exceed them.  Impossible!

Third, to fully understand the righteousness to which jesus referred would require a perspective gained only on the other side of the cross and the open tomb.  The apostle Paul provides that perspective again in 2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV): “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Finally, in Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus assures that those who have been pursuing God’s righteousness in this world will be ready for judgement day.  What is so intriguing about Jesus’ story is that those who are going to eternal life, like those who are destined for hell, can’t recall ever seeing Jesus in their daily ministry.  What separates them is the fact that the lambs were practicing God’s righteousness without an awareness of Jesus’ blessing.  Their transformation into righteous people came as they become more like their Father because of their desire to be like Him, not to earn most favored status.  The activities of these seekers of righteousness quickly reveals its nature in their pursuit of  justice for others.

CONCLUSION

So, the satisfaction of the search for righteousness comes when we choose to follow Jesus and He, through His sacrifice, declares us righteous.  Flowing out of our brokenness, mourning and meekness we then seek out the will of our Father through His word and prayer in the midst of fellow seekers who are also pursuing the Father’s will.  This hungering and thirsting for His will is a passion that leads us upon a quest to be like Him in such a way that it becomes who we are; second nature.

And so, our desire for Him is brought back to the desire that God has implanted in our hearts from the beginning: to see His image realized in our lives so we can be righteous like Him.  What is truly amazing is that God has already made us like Him because of Jesus; we are only striving to live up to that which He has already declared us to be!

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