Verse of the Day Devotion. Matthew 5:6
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
In this verse, Matthew is talking about people’s attitudes toward righteousness. Most people want to do things that are right. We, as Christians, are called to do what is right. However, there is a big distinction between doing righteous things and desiring righteousness. And that distinction is defined as even greater then desiring it. We are called to ‘hunger and thirst’ for righteousness. Now this goes far beyond desiring righteousness. Jesus is speaking of an intense longing for righteousness that may be likened to both hunger and thirst. Everyone now and then does what is right, but Jesus is pointing his hearers not to occasional acts but to a passionate concern and regarding what is right.
Righteousness is often used in the New Testament for the right standing believers have before God because of Christ’s atoning work. Now it is plain that Matthew has a strong interest in the upright living that should characterize the servant of Christ. To be more specific, we should notice that he is not suggesting that people can make a strong effort and achieve the righteousness of which he is writing: it is a given righteousness, not an achieved righteousness. The blessed may not totally achieve it but hunger and thirst for it.
There are several verses in the Old Testament that have the same idea as we find in our focus verse. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, Where is your God?” Psalm 42:1-3. Note our focus verse. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6. As the dear pants for water, in other words, as the dear needs water due to thirst, I thirst for God and His ways.
Another verse is found in Psalm 63, which is a Psalm of David. “God, You are my God; I shall be watching for You; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and exhausted land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1. Here, David compares his desire for God as one who desires water where he cannot find it. David sought God at the tabernacle as earnestly as a thirsty man looks for water in a dry and thirsty land. The Wilderness of Judah is largely desert, so this was a picture of longing that came easily to David’s mind. And one more psalm, “I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, like a weary land. Selah” Psalm 143:6. This is another from David, who is spreading out his hands to God to reply.
And then in the book of Amos. “Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord GOD, When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. People will stagger from sea to sea And from the north even to the east; They will roam about to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.” Amos 8:11-12. Notice the nature of this famine. It is not a lack of God’s word, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. The condition described is that of being deaf to the words of Jehovah, not able to hear them. It is not a case of God withholding His revelation; but of people being in such a state that they do not see it, do not hear the words.
God is calling us to seek Him, His word, and His righteousness. We should desire God’s righteousness more than a starving man cries out for food, and more than someone who is intensely thirsty cries out for water. Deeply joyful and spiritually whole are those who actively seek a right relationship with God and, in so doing, discover that He alone can completely save and satisfy our souls.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.