July 5 I Thursday
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” —Matthew 5:6
The beatitudes do not refer to eight different kinds of people, but to eight different qualities that are true of every believer, beginning with the first, building on the second, and so forth. The first beatitude, being poor in spirit, means recognizing that in and of ourselves, we are inadequate to be the person we were created to be. This builds on the second beatitude—to mourn our poverty of spirit, which is to respond in repentance so that we may be comforted by Christ, who
replaces our poverty with His riches. The result is the third beatitude—meekness of soul, an attitude of humility and submission to God in which we find true meaning and purpose.
The fourth beatitude and evidence of someone living in a healthy relationship with God is that they have an appetite for righteousness. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness is not about trying our best to keep all the rules. Righteousness in Scripture primarily refers to the moral character of God. God created human beings in His image, indwelt by His Spirit, so that the way we live, act and react might portray His love, goodness, mercy, justice and compassion.
This changed in the Garden of Eden when sin entered the world and God withdrew His Spirit. Sin separated us from the life of God, making us incapable of displaying the character of God, which is solely dependent on the indwelling presence of God. Apart from being in Christ, we remain in our sin, alienated from God. Rectifying this broken relationship and the moral image of God into human experience is the purpose of the Gospel. Paul tells us that “...in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed” (Romans 1:17). Peter says, “‘[Christ] Himself bore our sins’ in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness”
(1 Peter 2:24). The result is that a person born again of the Holy Spirit receives the Spirit of God so that they may increasingly reflect His character.
In the same way that having an appetite for food is a sign of physical health, having an appetite for righteousness is a sign of spiritual health. It is a sign that we have faced our poverty of spirit, mourned our poverty and have come in humble submission to Christ. The words “hunger” and “thirst” are significant, because it is not that we suddenly become righteous in the way we live, but that we have a genuine appetite to do so. The mark of authenticity in the Christian life is not dotting our doctrinal “i’s” or crossing our doctrinal “t’s”, but that the character of God is being expressed in our lives.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for living and working in me to reflect Your moral character. Grow within me a greater appetite for Your righteousness. Thank You, Lord.