If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
This is the fourth week of our study of the Beattitudes. First, we had to submit ourselves for God to make us teachable (Blessed are the poor in spirit). Once we became teachable, we were ready for God to give us empathy (Blessed are they who mourn). Then we were ready to learn that by humbling ourselves to depend upon the strength of God we would inherit the earth (Blessed are the meek).
With these characteristics developed in us, we can move on to Matthew 5:6, which says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
This one is pretty straightforward. Jesus isn’t talking here about just approving. He says “. . . who hunger and thirst . . .” This goes way beyond merely approving or even sorta wishing.
If I’m stranded in the desert with no provisions, I don’t just sorta want water or food. I hunger and thirst. I crave something to eat and something to drink. I desire it so much I’m overcome with that desire.
That’s what Jesus is talking about here—being absolutely overcome with the desire for righteousness. And what do we mean by righteousness?
I’ve heard this explained as seeking justice. Seeking fair treatment for others. Wanting to protect the downtrodden. This is a worthwhile idea—in fact, a lofty goal. We should want a fair break for those unable to protect themselves. But that’s not exactly what Jesus was talking about here.
The Greek word used for righteousness is best translated as justification or right standing. I believe Jesus is talking about craving right standing before God. Wanting to be justified in the eyes of our Creator.
And what is the reward for this? After all, each of the Beattitudes specifies a reward for attaining it. The reward here is that they shall be satisfied [New American Standard Bible]. Both the King James Version and the New International Version render this as “. . . for they shall be filled.”
If we’re talking about hungering and thirsting and saying they shall be filled or satisfied, we mean that hunger and thirst will be satisfied or filled. The Greek word used here actually means gorged. That hunger and thirst will be filled to overflowing. Stuffed, gorged, sated.
Wait a minute . . . what’s going to be filled in that manner? The craving for right standing. When we attain this level in our Christian growth, our desire for right standing will be totally sated. We’ll be given all the right standing we can handle.
How does this compare with your understanding of this Beattitude? I love to hear your feedback.
Next week we’ll look at “Blessed are the merciful. . . .”
David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his non-fiction Web Wisdom: Godly Thoughts and Inspiration from the Inbox and starting his new fiction work—a series of novellas set during the period from 1860 to 1880.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @davidnwalkertx