Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness—A devo from Matt. 5

An analogy for this text is not hard to come by because we can all relate to what it feels like to be hungry and thirsty. It is remarkable how the body is designed to rely on food for nourishment. We have specific chemical cues to tell your brain when you are in need of food. Likewise, dry mouth and headaches are helpful reminders that we need to consume water. Do you ever hunger for something you’ve never tasted? Have you ever had an unquenchable thirst for something you have never drunk before? The cues for righteousness appear to be bit more difficult to identify; could this be because we as Christ-followers don’t completely understand the importance of righteousness? Maybe we have neglected to really sit-down and recognize the importance of it. What does it even mean to be righteous? What does it look like to desire this righteousness like one desires food or water? Obviously if Jesus is using it in comparison to something we need to live then it must have a degree of importance to us. The word “righteous” or “righteousness” is littered throughout the entire Bible. Let’s first look at some “Foundational Fathers” of the faith in the Old Testament to get a better idea of what this term means; then we can decide what hunger and thirst for it and also look at some text in Christ’s ministry.

What better place to begin our quest for an understanding of righteousness than to look in the book of Genesis. In Genesis chapter 6, Noah is introduced as a “righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” It says in the English Standard Version (ESV) Commentary this:

“The Hebrew for blameless conveys the sense of being perfect, without evident flaw (although not necessarily sinless). Like Noah, Abraham is later required by God to walk before him blameless (17:1). The positive attributes listed here are rarely ascribed to human beings in the OT”

So there are two primary components of being righteous in this passage: blameless and walking with God. In the previous chapter, chapter 5, a genealogy is being described and it is interrupted in verses 22-24 with the statement “Enoch walked with God,” The ESV commentary says that “the Hebrew verb for “walked” is a distinctive form that conveys the sense of an ongoing intimacy with God.” So the term righteousness is further described as having “an ongoing intimacy with God.” These “Foundational Fathers” were not perfect---these were merely men who in the moments they were tested, obeyed God. It says in Hebrews 10:7:

“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”

An heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. So Noah became righteous through the act of faith. This reflects the theme other statements throughout the New Testament in regards to righteousness:

“None is righteous, no, not one;” Romans 3:10-4:12 consists of three huge passages on the concept of righteousness first beginning with the fact that “No one is righteous.” God’s righteousness (Rom. 3:22) was shown through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. Righteousness then,, becoming blameless (as stated earlier), comes through faith in Christ Jesus.

“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one mans’ obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:19-21

In 1 John 3:7 it somewhat adds to this concept of righteousness in the sense that you as Christ-follower will be identified with righteousness in your life:

“Little children, let no one decive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.” 1 John 3:7

We are expected, once we’ve received the righteousness through Christ as our Lord and Savior of our lives, to be like him and live in righteousness. No, it does not mean that we will be perfect and never sin again—but that we now are to be a slave to righteousness—being blameless, walking with God rather than being a slave to sin.

To relate this back to Rick’s message primarily focusing on hunger and thirsting for righteousness, it is important to first recognize that you are even hungry to begin with! This may seem odd to you because you may be saying to yourself “ Life is going great, I’m in college, I have a boyfriend/girlfriend and an awesome group of friends, I’m healthy, I have a future, why would I be in need or hungry for anything when I’m really satisfied?” If you’re in this state of being satisfied with life, maybe you need to take a step back and ask God to just open up your eyes to impurities in your life or areas of weaknesses. It’s not fun to say “Hey God, show me where I struggle in life so that I realize that I really need you.” But sometimes we allow this pride of “arriving in the faith” that we once we receive Christ that we don’t need Him to “save us” anymore. Did you know that being thirsty is actually a “late” sign of dehydration in the body? That you were actually dehydrated before you were thirsty? Similarly in our walks with Christ, we don’t hunger or thirst for him until we realize how much we need him when life really gets ugly. If we, as His children, would take the time and fill up on Him, whether in Word, fellowship, worship and prayer---we would most certainly not have to worry about becoming ‘dehydrated in Christ.’ Through the passages of His Word, we have recognized that in order to obtain righteousness, it can only come from Christ just like how in order to replenish your body’s needs for fluids, it can only come from water. We are dependent upon food and water just like we are to be dependent up on God. Don’t try to live without Him.


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