A Passion for Righteousness

March 5, 2018

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6

Today, America is the richest, most affluent, most materialistic nation on the planet. We’ve got it better than anybody. But the more materialistic our culture becomes, the less satisfied people are.

The natural man hungers and thirsts for fulfillment, but people cannot have contentment apart from righteousness. As we read in Isaiah, “There is no peace, says the Lord, for the wicked” (Isa. 48:22). Rather, it’s in the pursuit of righteousness that fulfillment comes. This is why Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness” (5:6).

Intense Craving

Now with the terms “hunger” and “thirst,” Jesus describes something intense. This is not a casual, ho-hum attitude toward the things of the Spirit but a desperate agonizing in a person’s soul. We often use the term “passion” in describing our expressions of worship; the word actually means “an intense craving.” That’s what Jesus is talking about here, an intense craving for righteousness.

What does that look like? Well, someone who hungers for righteousness desires, first of all, to be free from the power of sin. They see their weaknesses, their tendency to go in the wrong direction, and they want to overcome this. The desire for victory over sin becomes their intense craving. There is a deep longing for the things that God says are good and holy and pure.

Fruit of the Spirit

Second, it’s a life marked by the fruit of the Spirit. On the negative side, a person wants to be free from sin’s power, but on the positive side, they want the fruit of the Spirit to be manifested in their life. They want to be conformed to the image of Christ, to be the person God wants them to be.

Harmony with God

Third, a person who hungers and thirsts for righteousness desires to see the world around him or her come into harmony with God. They desire to see God’s rule established on the earth. They long for people to love and serve and obey God, for righteousness to cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (see Isa. 11:9).

This passion for righteousness is expressed many times in the Scriptures. Listen to the psalmist: “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” (Ps. 42:1–2). This is the language of those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness.

Promise of Blessing

The intense language that Jesus uses here rules out self-satisfied, halfhearted religion. The person who just wants a little morality in their life or to expose their children to a bit of religion knows nothing of what it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Neither will that person know anything of the blessing that Jesus promises here. It is only for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness—they will be filled. Filled with power to overcome sin, filled with the Spirit to show forth the graces of Christ, and filled with faith and hope that Jesus will come again and put an end to all unrighteousness, inequity, and oppression so that righteousness will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Are you passionate about your relationship with Jesus? Are you hungry for more of God in your life? Are you thirsty for that living water that only Jesus can give? Do you long for the day when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ? If so, you are blessed. And you’ll continue to be blessed as you keep passionately pursuing righteousness.