James Burton Coffman wrote, “How many are there who manifest no hunger or thirst after the things of God; and what shall be said of this multitude? Why do they feel no hunger, no thirst? Like the absence of ordinary hunger, this spiritual lack of hunger is due to the awful cancer of sin gnawing out the heart of the victim.” I find what Coffman said to be true. It is sin that will pervert our desire for righteousness. The more we fill ourselves with righteousness, there will be no room for worldliness.
Jesus in Matthew 5:6 said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Do we crave righteousness? Is righteousness something that we desire? How can one tell if they are hungering and thirsting after righteousness? In this article, we will discuss the meaning of the text and how to deepen our desire for righteousness.
What does it mean to hunger and thirst after righteousness?
The Word “righteousness” literally means to be right. In a broad sense, it means to be in a condition acceptable to God by conforming and obeying His divine will. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness seek to be right with God. They have a great desire to be free from sin in all forms. They long to be righteous in the presence of God. Their primary focus is walking in righteousness with God.
To have an appetite for righteousness will significantly benefit the life of a Christian. To be desperate, to be starving for righteousness, reminds me of Psalm 42: 1 - 2. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” The Psalmist also wrote, “O God, You are my God; I shall seek you earnestly; My soul thirst for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps. 63:1). Does my soul thirst for righteousness?
One author wrote, “To hunger and thirst is to be like a man who wants a position. He is restless; he cannot keep still; he is working and plodding; he thinks about it and dreams about it; his ambition is the controlling passion of his life. To hunger and thirst is like that, the man ‘hungers and thirsts’ after that position.” Do we have the same craving for righteous living? We must earnestly desire to live a morally upright life. Righteousness is not an optional spiritual supplement but a spiritual necessity, and no disciple of Christ can excuse him or herself from seeking it. We must yearn for every part of righteousness.
The Bible teaches that we must pursue righteousness. Proverbs 10:2 “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing. But righteousness delivers from death.” To hunger and thirst after righteousness is the way of life. To have an appetite, a taste for the world, for sin is the way of death. God’s Word implores the Christian to walk uprightly. “Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). What is your spiritual appetite? Are we really hungry and thirsty? Blessed are those – joy-filled are those who hunger and thirst for total righteousness, for complete righteousness. Righteousness that conforms to the holiness of God and the character of Christ.
What must I do to deepen my hunger and thirst for God and His righteousness?
Number one, we have to stop feeding on the junk food of the world. We have to wean ourselves off of what the world would give us for its pleasures. When we are caught up in worldly philosophies and secular ideologies, we crowd out any hunger and thirst that we would have for righteousness. This is why we are to not love the world (I John 2:15 – 17).
We must continue emptying ourselves of erroneous thoughts that come from the world about God, about life, about death, about how to be happy. We have to remove those thoughts from our hearts in order for there to be a hunger and thirst for God and righteousness.
Lastly, we need to remain in the Word. The one who spends time in the Word cultivates a deep desire for more of the Word. They can’t put it down. It is with them everywhere they go. When we step away from the Word, we will slowly lose interest in the Word. We have to get back into the Word because it is the Word that creates a greater hunger and thirst for righteousness. His Word also provides a promise to those who crave righteousness.
What is the promised blessing to those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness?”
Jesus said, “They shall be satisfied.” Satisfying our spiritual hunger is far more important than filling our stomachs, and the Christian who has an intense desire for righteousness will grow in greater knowledge of God and His will (John 7:16 – 18), which will result in a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God. The man who is hungering and thirsting after righteousness will put himself in the way of getting it. The spiritually malnourished is devoid of God’s Word and His righteousness. My prayer is that we will continually ask God in prayer to deepen our hunger for Him and His Word. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled – with ‘all the fullness of God.’