Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Beatitudes - Blessed Are Those That Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

For the past few days, we talked about the first three beatitudes.  Those beatitudes were about coming to the realization of who we are, but today we are moving to what we do.  When we see that we have no righteousness of our own and mourn for our sin before God, we are empty.  Our meekness is our state of being realizing that our illusions of being better than anyone else become shattered and irrelevant.  We realize our emptiness and that causes us to hunger.  What do we hunger for?  The next beatitude covers that.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.  Matthew 5:6 NKJV
the kind of hunger this is speaking of here is not some slight hunger satisfied with a cookie or an apple and a soda, but a deep starvation level kind of hunger.  It is a kind of hunger we see on television asking us to send money to support poor children.  It is the kind of hunger most of us can never understand.  That is the level of hunger Jesus is speaking of here.  And this hunger can only be satisfied by righteousness. 

I think that at some level, everyone feels this emptiness.  I think that poverty of spirit and emptiness before Christ as so pervasive that it is part of the testimony of the reality of God and the need for Jesus.  We were created for righteousness.  We were created for fellowship with God.  Anyone missing that has a missing part of their lives.  Unfortunately, many try to fill this hole with anything and everything but Jesus.  Many do not know Him and many reject Him, but either way they are not filled by Him.  They fill this hole with false gods, false spirituality, self righteousness, carnal love, or any other collection of things we think will fill that hole.  Others try to ignore the hole and when they can not, they turn to fast living, drugs, alcohol, partying, or just about anything else they can use to distract themselves from the missing part of their lives.  These people desire so much to be happy that they create a poor facsimile of happiness without contentment and eventually turn bitter and miserable.  This is why living and sharing the love of Jesus is so important.  We have the answer to their misery and yet we cover our lights and ruin our saltiness through our own worldliness while all the while so many around we love and care for are perishing. 

This sad state is not true for those of us who have accepted Jesus.  We have seen the poverty of our spirits.  We have seen our moral emptiness and mourned for our failures.  We have seen that we have no righteousness of our own.  God reveals to us that what is keeping us from our happiness is not a lack of worldly "fun" but a lack of Godly righteousness.  We were created for righteousness. 
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10 NKJV
We are all created in the image of God.  Humanity was originally created for righteousness and fellowship with God and until Adam and Eve fell that is how it was.  Once sin had entered the world, God's perfect creation was corrupted and has been so until this day.  We are still His creation, though, and we still yearn for those things we were created for.  

So now that we know we all have an emptiness that only righteousness can fill, we need to define what righteousness is.  To hunger for righteousness means to hunger for a life free of sin.  To hunger for righteousness means to hunger for Jesus in our lives.  To hunger for righteousness means to hunger for a life of that pleasing to God.  To hunger for righteousness means a desire to see others around us come to that same realization that we have.  To hunger for righteousness means a desire to see God's spirit poured out over the whole earth.  It is a deep insatiable desire to see righteousness in your own life and in the lives of those around you. 

But there is a problem with all of that.  It is not possible.  We know from the other beatitudes that we are void of any righteousness in and of ourselves.  We know that self righteousness is a mirage we cling to in order to feel good about ourselves.  We know the poverty of our spirit.  We know that we have nothing to offer God but a life of failure and a soul in desperate need of forgiveness.  In other words, we have no righteousness to offer.  We have nothing to fill that desire.  We are the starving person at his last breath with not even a crumb to stave our impending death.  We are utterly and completely hopeless and that is how we come to God.  The amazing this is, that is exactly what God wants. 
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV
You see, God is not looking for us to bring our own righteousness to Him.  We have none.  God wants us to give up the illusion of having any righteousness of our own.  It is only when we are truly empty that God will begin to filll us.  That is because whatever we consider righteousness of our own selves is only filth that will taint the righteousness of God.  So we come to God with hearts empty of righteousness and He does something truly and unbelievable amazing.  He gives us His righteousness.  He fills our empty hearts with the Holy Spirit and suddenly our hearts are filled with His righteousness.  And once we are filled with His righteousness, it brings forth fruit.
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.   Philippians 1:9-11 NKJV
I will get more into the implications of being filled with the righteousness of God next week when other beatitudes cover that subject, but today I want to give the picture of being filled with the fruits of the righteousness of God.  Think of the contrast of being poor, wretched, starving, and dying of thirst to now where you are filled with the fruits of the righteousness of God.  Being filled, we rejoice in the abundance of His great mercy to fill us so full of Himself.  That is how those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed.  That is where the joy comes in.  It is like someone who stomach is so empty and mouth is so dry that they are sure of their own death and someone comes a long with fresh plump ripe fruit and ice cold mountain stream water.  The deeper the hunger, the more satisfying it is to be filled.  The deeper the thirst, the more refreshing that drink of water is.  That is the life of one who hungers and thirsts for righteousness.  To hunger and thirst so deeply for righteousness leaves no room for hunger or thirst for sin. Hunger for righteousness like it is the only food that can save your life.  Thirst for righteousness as though without that drink you will surely perish.  Do that because it is true.  Righteousness is the only thing that will save you and without it you will surely perish because only the righteous inherit the kingdom of God.  We have none of our own nor can we gain any on our own.  The good news is that God is willing to give you His righteousness through Jesus Christ.  Only through Jesus can you satisfy that hunger and thirst.  Only through Jesus can you find righteousness.
Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever. John 6:52-58 NKJV

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