HUNGERING AND THIRSTING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” [Matt 5:6]
Hungering and thirsting expresses vehement desire, of which the soul is acutely conscious.
First, the Holy Spirit brings before the heart the holy requirements of God. He reveals to us His perfect standard, which He can never lower. He reminds us that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).
Second, the trembling soul, conscious of his own abject poverty and realizing his utter inability to measure up to God’s requirements, sees no help in himself. This painful discovery causes him to mourn and groan. Have you done so?
Third, the Holy Spirit then creates in the heart a deep “hunger and thirst” that causes the convicted sinner to look for relief and to seek a supply outside of himself. The believing eye is then directed to Christ, who is “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer. 23:6).
Like the previous ones, this fourth Beatitude describes a twofold experience. It obviously refers to the initial hungering and thirsting that occurs before a sinner turns to Christ by faith. But it also refers to the continual longing that is perpetuated in the heart of every saved sinner until his dying day. Repeated exercises of this grace are felt at varying intervals. The one who longed to be saved by Christ, now yearns to be made like Him. Looked at in its widest aspect, this hungering and thirsting refers to a panting of the renewed heart after God (Ps. 42:1), a yearning for a closer walk with Him, and a longing for more perfect conformity to the image of His Son. It tells of those aspirations of the new nature for Divine blessing that alone can strengthen, sustain, and satisfy.
Our text presents such a paradox that it is evident that no carnal mind ever invented it. Can one who has been brought into vital union with Him who is the Bread of Life and in whom all fullness dwells be found still hungering and thirsting? Yes, such is the experience of the renewed heart. Mark carefully the tense of the verb: it is not “Blessed are they which have hungered and thirsted,” but “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst.”
Do you, dear reader? Or are you content with your attainments and satisfied with your condition? Hungering and thirsting after righteousness has always been the experience of God’s true saints (Phil. 3:8-14).
“They shall be filled.” Like the first part of our text, this also has a double fulfillment, both initial and continuous. When God creates a hunger and a thirst in the soul, it is so that He may satisfy them. When the poor sinner is made to feel his need for Christ, it is to the end that he may be drawn to Christ and led to embrace Him as his only righteousness before a holy God. He is delighted to confess Christ as his new-found righteousness and to glory in Him alone (1 Cor. 1:30, 31). Such a one, whom God now calls a “saint” (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1), is to experience an ongoing filling: not with wine, wherein is excess, but with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). He is to be filled with the peace of God that passeth all understanding (Phil. 4:7).
We who are trusting in the righteousness of Christ shall one day be filled with Divine blessing without any admixture of sorrow; we shall be filled with praise and thanksgiving to Him who wrought every work of love and obedience in us (Phil. 2:12, 13) as the visible fruit of His saving work in and for us. In this world, “He hath filled the hungry with good things” (Luke 1:53) such as this world can neither give to nor withhold from those who “seek the Lord (Ps. 34:10). He bestows such goodness and mercy upon us, who are the sheep of His pasture, that our cups run over (Ps. 23:5, 6).
Yet all that we presently enjoy is but a mere foretaste of all that our “God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). In the eternal state, we will be filled with perfect holiness, for “we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2). Then we shall be done with sin forever. Then we shall “hunger no more, neither thirst any more.