January 4 (Matthew 5:6 NIV)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Psalm 42 paints a beautiful verbal picture of what it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness as the psalmist describes a deer panting for water and then adding, “so my soul pants for you, my God.” I imagine a picture of a deer on the run, searching for something to drink as he seeks refuge from the attacks of animal or human hunters. In his desperate flight, his thirst overwhelms him and his search includes looking for water as he runs. I wonder if Jesus had this passage in mind when He talked about hungering and thirsting for righteousness.
These words were especially appropriate to people who often wondered how they were going to be able to get their next meal. They understood both hungering and thirsting and the effort it took to satisfy their needs. The call from Jesus was to apply that same mindset towards righteousness. Just as their physical hunger and thirst compelled them to search for food and drink each and every day, the search for righteousness was to be their number one spiritual priority each day.
Righteousness has a two-fold meaning for Christians. The first meaning, which is common to all people, is the idea of living morally upright lives. We should be so desperate to live in a morally upright way that God’s standards should always be on our minds as we go through the days. We should strive to live in such a way among people that they’ll recognize that we’re following God’s plan for living. At the same time, righteousness includes the concept of a good relationship with God. Just as we should strive to live morally upright lives, we should seek a relationship with God that surpasses all other things or relationships.
The promise of Jesus is that those who do hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled, or satisfied as the New American Standard Bible puts it. You can’t take a sip of water and be filled, nor can you take a small taste and walk away satisfied. The hunger and thirsting that Jesus calls us to is a full commitment to our relationship with God and a life that honors Him in all we do. That happens when we’re desperate in our desire for a good relationship with God.
Lord, create that hunger, that thirst for righteousness in me. Let my life reflect my relationship with you. May all my actions reflect your character as I live each day for you.