Sermon Text: Matthew 5:6
Sermon Theme: As we constantly crave God and His ways, we will be constantly satisfied by God.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst,… Not after the riches, honors, and pleasures of this world, but after righteousness; by which is meant, not justice and equity, as persons oppressed and injured; nor a moral, legal righteousness, which the generality of the Jewish nation were eagerly pursuing; but the justifying righteousness of Christ, which is imputed by God the Father, and received by faith. To “hunger and thirst” after this, supposes a want of righteousness, which is the case of all men; a sense of want of it, which is only perceived by persons spiritually enlightened; a discovery of the righteousness of Christ to them, which is made in the Gospel, and by the Spirit of God; a value for it, and a preference of it to all other righteousness; and an earnest desire after it, to be possessed of it, and found in it; and that nothing can be more grateful than that, because of its perfection, purity, suitableness, and use: happy souls are these,
for they shall be filled: with that righteousness, and with all other good things, in consequence of it; and particularly with joy and peace, which are the certain effects of it: or, “they shall be satisfied,” that they have an interest in it; and so satisfied with it, that they shall never seek for any other righteousness, as a justifying one, in the sight of God; this being full, perfect, sufficient, and entirely complete.
(From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)
- Do you have little hunger for the things of God? Do you want to pick and choose, to nibble at whatever suits your fancy—because basically you are satisfied with the way you are? In your own eyes are you one who has enough, and thereby became one of the self-adjudged rich whom the Lord sends away empty-handed? It is only the hungry that He fills with good things (Luke 1:53).
- Skeptics of Christianity argue that the Bible cannot be true because of all the evil in the world. “Why has not God done anything about that?” they sneer. One Christian responded, “Your skepticism only seeks to excuse yourself.” For the moment, let us set aside the evil “out there.” The question you should be asking is, “What shall we do about the evil in you?” For kingdom servants, there should certainly be a hunger and thirst for righteousness to be restored in our surrounding world. But do you have an even deeper hunger that such restoration begin within your own heart?
- Are you perishing for want of righteousness? Are you feeling as a lost sinner and strongly desire to be holy? Never was there a desire to be holy which God was not willing to gratify, and the gospel of Christ has made provision to satisfy all who truly desire to be holy. See Isaiah 55:1-3; Isaiah 65:13; John 4:14; John 6:35; John 7:37-38; Psalm 17:15.
- Are you among the many men and women hungering and thirsting after sensual satisfactions or after sensible enjoyments? Are you among the unhappy and miserable who are often hungry and thirsty and are not satisfied? What will it take for you to be filled? Know that Jesus will show you a more excellent way, a more excellent object of your hunger and thirst, that is, righteousness—a righteousness which is in Him wherein you may stand before God (Jeremiah 23:6), is revealed from faith for faith (Romans 1:17) and the righteousness of a holy life.
- Do you have a burning desire for a relationship of obedience and trust with God—a personal aspiration and not a desire for social justice?
- Are you prone to take good things God has given—such as possessions, health, freedom, opportunities and knowledge—and spend them on pleasure, power, popularity, fame and every other form of self-satisfaction? Do you follow the likeness of the prodigal who often is content to stay in the far country, away from God and away from His blessings? Remember that the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:15-17).
- Are we living without God’s righteousness and are starved for a spiritual life? Do we tragically have no natural desire for a spiritual life that we do for a physical life? The tendency of fallen mankind is to turn to itself and to the world for meaning and life, just as “a dog returns to its own vomit,” and “a sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:22; Proverbs 26:11). The heart of every person in the world was created with a sense of inner emptiness and need. Yet apart from God’s revelation men do not recognize what the need is or know what will satisfy it.
- John Darby wrote, “To be hungry is not enough; I must be really starving to know what is in God’s heart toward me. When the prodigal son was hungry, he went to feed on the husks, but when he was starving, he turned to his father.” That is the hunger of which the fourth beatitude speaks, the hunger for righteousness that only the Father can satisfy. How deep is your hunger today?
- Are you living in a right relationship with others? Are you living in a right relationship with the world as a steward of God?
- Are you continuously thanking God for satisfying your spiritual hunger and thirst?
1) This beatitude speaks of strong desire, of driving pursuit, of a passionate force inside the soul. It has to do with ambition—ambition of the right sort—whose object is to honor, obey, and glorify God by partaking of His righteousness. This holy ambition is in great contrast to the common ambitions of men to gratify their own lusts, accomplish their own goals, and satisfy their own ego… Jesus declares that the deepest desire of every person ought to be to hunger and thirst for righteousness. That is the Spirit-prompted desire that will lead a person to salvation and keep him strong and faithful once he is in the kingdom. It is also the only ambition that, when fulfilled, brings enduring happiness.
Seeking satisfaction only in God and in His provision is a mark of those who come into His kingdom. Those who belong to the King hunger and thirst for the King’s righteousness. They desire sin to be replaced with virtue and disobedience to be replaced by obedience. They are eager to serve the Word and will of God.
The first three beatitudes are also costly and painful – commandments to forsake evil things that are barriers to the kingdom. In poverty of spirit we turn away from self-seeking (death to self); in mourning we turn away from self-satisfaction (facing up to our sinfulness); and in meekness we turn away from self-serving (surrendering our power to God’s control). The fourth beatitude is more positive and is a consequence of the other three. When we put aside self, sins, and power and turn to the Lord, we are given a great desire for righteousness. The more we put aside what we have, the more we long for what God has.
(From John MacArthur’s New Testament Commentary)
2) There are several marks of genuine hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness:
- Dissatisfaction with self. The person who is pleased with his own righteousness will see no need for God’s.
- Freedom from dependence on external things for satisfaction. A hungry man cannot be satisfied by an arrangement of lovely flowers or beautiful music or pleasant conversation. All of those things are good, but they have no ability to satisfy hunger. Neither can anything but God’s own righteousness satisfy the person who has true spiritual hunger and thirst. The spiritually hungry do not ask for Christ and economic success, Christ and personal satisfaction, Christ and popularity, or Christ and anything else. They want only Christ and what God in His wisdom and love sovereignly provides through Christ—whatever that may or may not be.
- Craving for the Word of God, the basic spiritual food He provides His children. A hungry man does not have to be begged to eat. Jeremiah rejoiced, “Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16). The more we seek God’s righteousness, the more we will want to devour Scripture. Feeding on God’s Word increases our appetite for it.
- The pleasantness of the things of God. It is the very satisfaction that makes us want more. We want to eat more of those things because they are so satisfying. The person who genuinely hungers and thirsts for God’s righteousness finds it so satisfying that he wants more and more. For Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
- A final mark of true spiritual hunger is unconditionality. When our spiritual hunger and thirst are genuine they will make no conditions; they will seek and accept God’s righteousness in whatever way He chooses to provide it and will obey His commands no matter how demanding they may be. The least of God’s righteousness is more valuable than the greatest of anything we possess in ourselves or that the world can offer.
3) The following is from “Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture” 29 Vols
THE PASSIONATE LONGING FOR JUSTICE. (By Chromatius): He taught that we must seek after righteousness with earnest desire, not with fainthearted energy. Indeed, he calls those persons blessed who in their search for righteousness virtually burn with passionate longing in their hunger and thirst. For if each one of us really hungers and thirsts for righteousness with eager desire, we can do nothing else but think and seek after righteousness. It is necessary that we eagerly desire that for which we hunger and thirst.
THE DOCILE HEART. (By unknown author): To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to desire God’s own righteousness. People should hear and do God’s righteousness, not as though they hear or do it unwillingly but from their heart’s desire. Every good that is not done out of this sort of love for righteousness is not pleasing to God. Hence the Lord, through John, does not simply call everyone to drink, but only those who are thirsty, saying, “If anyone thirst, let that one come to me and drink” (John 7:37-38). Similarly it was not for nothing that he spoke of those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Whoever hungers for righteousness wants to live actively according to God’s righteousness; this is proper for the person with a good heart. One who thirsts for righteousness wants to acquire the knowledge of God that one can gain only by studying the Scriptures. This is fitting for the person with an attentive heart. “For they shall be satisfied.” They are filled with the abundance of God’s reward. Greater are the rewards of God than even the most avid desires of the saints.
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