Happy are the Hungry

It is not a blessing to be physically hungry. But in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pronounced blessing or happiness on everyone who was spiritually hungry, longing for a holy life. He said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).

To hunger or thirst physically for something and have it filled, brings joy. Did you ever get so thirsty you would give almost anything for a drink of water? In the mid-1990’s, before bottled water became prevalent, my wife, Pat, and I spent a week in the hot and humid jungles of the southern Philippines. I was preaching at different mission sites in various places on the interior of the island of Mindanao, and people treated us graciously, but we could not drink the water. We learned to love Coca Cola, which all the missionaries and villagers supplied, but it could not satisfy like water. During that dry week, I dreamed of drinking glass after glass of cold, clean, Monticello water, at our home.

In this Best Sermon Ever Preached, Jesus used metaphors to enhance the meaning of His message. He pronounced blessing on the poor in spirit, those who recognized their spiritual poverty, and consciously depended on God and not themselves; He said those who mourned, recognizing their needs and presenting them to the One who could assist, would be happy; Then He promised those who were meek, humble and gentle that they would inherit the earth.

In this fourth installment of blessings in the upside down kingdom, Jesus confirmed that everyone who hungered—longed—for true righteousness and holiness would be satisfied with what He supplied. Since Adam and Eve disobeyed God, bringing sin and its contamination to humanity—pure holiness, complete righteousness and untainted goodness had only been found in one person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only One “who committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22).

Though we lack purity because of our sin nature, something within us longs for it. In quiet, reflective moments, most yearn to be totally clean from the filth of sinful thoughts and wrongful deeds. Jesus pronounced blessing on people who have such longing. He taught that our deepest ambition should be to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6).

The desire to be holy and righteous may wrongly lead one to seek self-righteousness. Even at our best, we are still sinners, separated from a sinless God. None of us can ever live good enough to earn eternal life or a home in heaven. Isaiah wrote, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities like the wind, have taken us away” (64:6). The Bible is conclusive when it states, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Our God-given desire to have true righteousness should lead us to Christ and His salvation by God’s grace. The kind of righteousness that pleases God is the sinless life Jesus lived. This righteousness is available as a gift from our God, not as a payment for our work. Paul wrote, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but by His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5). In fact, it is “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

The beautiful balanced symmetry of God’s plan comes to fruition when His children are made righteous by grace through faith, then live righteously by His grace in their lives. After receiving Christ as Savior, believers are commanded to “present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:13-14). Because Jesus is Lord of your life, you are to “consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts” (Romans 6:11, 12).

This means believers in Christ should continue hungering and thirsting for practical righteousness and true holiness in their lives. When Jesus saves your soul, cleanses your life, and continually convicts and guides by His Holy Spirit, your life will be filled and fruitful. Our part is to seek Him—His part is to satisfy our souls. If we do our part—He will do His! We know that, “He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good” (Psalm 107:9)

Jesus Promises: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). This is true because, “He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26). As you accept His sacrifice for your sin and trust Him to save you, He will satisfy your hunger and quench your thirst with full satisfaction—forever.

Author: Larry E. Clements

Follower of Christ, fortunate to be husband to Pat, father of 5, grandfather of 12, writer, associate pastor of Pauline Baptist Church

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