Are you as hungry for righteousness as you are for food?
By Don Ruhl
A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb,
But to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
If you are filled with food, even the sweetest dessert is repulsive. To the starving man, distasteful things become sweet. Solomon is making a spiritual application. To the man filled with everything in life, who is worldly wise; righteousness repulses him. To the man starving spiritually, righteousness is the sweetest thing he has ever tasted. We have to acquire a taste for righteousness. At first, we are repulsed by it. However, the more we take it in, the more we want it; and the more we are turned off by wickedness.
The Question Before Us
Are we so filled with worldly philosophy, cares, riches, and ourselves that righteousness repulses us? Are we starving for righteousness? We will never find fulfillment in life until we follow the fourth Beatitude.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness? Jesus uses the strongest cravings known to man, and more frequently than any other to make His point. Esau sold his birthright because of hunger. Hunger can lead to cannibalism. Remember the Donner party? A group of emigrants heading to California were trapped during the winter of 1846–47 in an area where record snowfalls occur. Forty-two died, but 47 survived…by cannibalism. Remember the plane crash of soccer players in South America? They also resorted to cannibalism. During the Roman invasion of Jerusalem in AD 70, the Romans sealed off the city for months. The Jews resorted to cannibalism. Second Kings chapter six reveals another sad time in Israel’s history when they resorted to cannibalism. A woman sought the king’s help and he wanted to know what he could do. What is shocking about her statement is that cannibalism did not bother her, but that another woman lied about what they would eat.
Then the king said to her, “What is troubling you?” And she answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him’; but she has hidden her son” (2 Kin. 6:28, 29).
She approved of eating her own son, but did not approve of the other woman’s lie. This all sounds incredible to us, but it illustrates the strength of hunger. It is this all-consuming passion that Jesus says we should have for righteousness.
Thirst can also be as intense. People have swallowed sand, believing it to be water. Exodus 17 shows Israel murmuring against God because of their thirst. Here, are people who just witnessed the miraculous plagues against Egypt, not hesitating to show their disbelief. It was thirst that drove them to this sin.
And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (Exo. 17:3).
Do you see the intense cravings that hunger and thirst can be? Now, with the same degree of intensity, hunger and thirst for that which is spiritual. Let these cravings for righteousness be so strong that you will sacrifice any hindrance.
Hungering and Thirsting After Righteousness
One does not suddenly decide to seek righteousness. First, we see our own emptiness. Thus, Jesus has already said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” (Mat. 5:3). Then, we mourn over our unrighteous condition. So Jesus continues, “Blessed are those who mourn…” (Mat. 5:4). These cause us to subdue ourselves. Logically, the next Beatitude follows, “Blessed are the meek…” (Mat. 5:5). You do not seek a doctor until you notice a problem. Filling your car up with gas becomes a concern when you approach empty. Seeking righteousness becomes a driving force in our lives when we realize that we are living unrighteously.
Therefore, our food and drink is to do the will or righteousness of God, even as it was for Jesus (Joh. 4:34). Jesus taught further, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him” (Joh. 6:27). In Matthew chapter six, in the same sermon in which Jesus gives the Beatitudes, Jesus preaches that righteousness should be above all other concerns. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mat. 6:33). Do you see the strength of the craving for righteousness that is here in this verse? In the context, Jesus taught that it is even greater than food and clothing.
They Shall Be Filled
They shall be saturated. “The word for ‘filled’ (cortasyhsontai) means to feed or to fatten cattle from the word for fodder or grass…” (A. T. Robertson). Righteousness satisfies because we were made with certain purposes in mind. For example, we were made to glorify God. If we do not glorify God, life will not function for us properly, nor will it make sense. Additionally, we were made to do righteousness and to be righteous. Therefore, when we search for righteousness earnestly, we fulfill our purpose and we find fulfillment. This is why doing the right thing feels so good. Never hunger and thirst again.
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.
For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring.
Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (Joh. 4:13, 14).
And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst…I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (Joh. 6:35, 48–51).
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (Joh. 7:37, 38).
The hungry and the thirsty acquire a source from within that fills them. Righteousness is filling and satisfying because:
- It gives a good conscience
- It comes from God
- It enables us to walk boldly through the valley of the shadow of death, and
- It gives us freedom from wrath
Blessed Are Those Who Go to God When They Hunger, for They Shall Know No End to Good Things
Luke chapter one records the words of Mary during her visit with the future mother of John the Baptist. Mary could see God filling the life of Elizabeth and her own life. “He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty” (Luk. 1:53). There is a prophecy in Isaiah 65 that shows what people outside of God’s grace will have. We do not want the bad things of this passage for anyone. The church exists to move you from the bad to the good revealed here:
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
“Behold, My servants shall eat,
But you shall be hungry;
Behold, My servants shall drink,
But you shall be thirsty;
Behold, My servants shall rejoice,
But you shall be ashamed;
Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart,
But you shall cry for sorrow of heart,
And wail for grief of spirit.”
(Isa. 65:13, 14).
I close with some of the last words of the Bible, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).