I like food. And I like to eat pretty often. Really, eating comprises much of my thoughts throughout the day. When I wake up, the first thing I do is make breakfast and coffee. Usually it’s four eggs made either in omelet form with bacon bits or over medium with some toast or sausage links. It’s the most important meal of the day, so I have to start off on the right foot!
Lunch is one of those things that sometimes get lost in the craziness of the day, but even before lunch I get that mid-morning hunger coming about 10am. It’s time to snack! Then eat lunch, then snack some more before dinner. Taylor University ruined me for dinner, because every day right at 5:00pm on the dot I am ready to eat. And it’s like, if I don’t eat now, I’m going to get hangry. Usually I have to have a bigger snack and then actually eat dinner a bit later, because who is actually ready for dinner by 5:00pm, especially when that’s when you get off work??
There you have it. A little insight into my daily hunger and eating habits! All through the day I drink liters of water. It’s actually kind of ridiculous how much water I drink. And that’s my daily “thirst” habit I guess you could say. I drink a whole bunch of water all the time, along with coffee and stuff, but water is my main source of fulfilling that thirst.
Matthew 5:6 says this about hunger and thirst: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
When I get hungry or thirsty during the day, it’s a normal occurrence. My body needs more sustenance in order to keep running. However, my body can also be kept in check. Whether I’m on a diet or fasting from food, I can also control my hunger and thirst. I don’t absolutely NEED to eat right now, because I’m not starving. I could, in theory, go without food for awhile and still be okay. The hunger and thirst Jesus is talking about in this verse is not the slight a hunger, the “I forgot to eat breakfast” kind of hunger, but instead a starvation-induced pursuit after what will satisfy that hunger and thirst.
This hunger and thirst is a continual need for the only thing that can truly satisfy. Physical food and drink satisfy hunger and thirst for a time, right? That’s how we get full. We no longer need to eat anymore because our stomach is full and we are set until the next meal or snack. Jesus is describing an habitual hunger and thirst that never stops.
The Bible so often talks about spiritual growth and maturing in wisdom and understanding of God and the Bible as related to food. Jesus even said that doing the will of God was His food. Food is that sustaining energy our bodies need in order to survive. We will certainly die if we stop eating and drinking.
That’s the seriousness of what Jesus says here. Basically, you and I MUST pursue God and study His Word as if it were the only thing that can truly satisfy. We must pursue it as those who are starving pursue after food. It must be constantly before us. Every day we must “eat and drink” of the Word of God, praying, pursuing, and growing.
“The strongest and deepest impulses in the natural realm are used to represent the depth of desire the called of God and redeemed have for righteousness… Those who truly come to Jesus Christ come hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and those who are in Him continue to know that deep longing for holiness” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Matthew 1-7, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 181.)
This hunger and thirst looks different depending on whether you have a relationship with Jesus Christ or not. For those who do not follow Jesus as Savior and Lord, the hunger and thirst is for salvation.
Similar to the previous “beatitude” of the poor in spirit, those hungering and thirsting after Jesus Christ are hungering and thirsting for salvation, having recognized their need of Him. This person is hungering and thirsting for righteousness only available through God. It is not self-righteousness or righteousness found through doing good things or being a good person. It is true righteousness through God alone that brings lasting satisfaction.
Hungering and thirsting for the person who by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is saved, is the continual process of becoming more like Christ. No Christian ever “arrives” at perfection or sinlessness. It is such an obvious thing. We all still struggle. The hungering and thirsting is the continual pursuit of Christ-likeness and developing as a mature disciple of Jesus Christ.
It should also be obvious that we never arrive at a place where we cease to NEED the Word of God as our food and drink, or where we cease to NEED to go to God in prayer and supplication and repentance. These are things constant in our earthly lives and will only cease when Christ returns in all His glory.
What is the end result of all this hungering and thirsting for righteousness? Satisfaction. “Jesus’ divine pronouncement is that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be given total satisfaction. The giving of satisfaction is God’s work… Our part is to seek; His part is to satisfy… The person who genuinely hungers and thirsts for God’s righteousness finds it so satisfying that he wants more and more” (MacArthur, 183).
The spiritually hungry are those who seek Christ and Christ alone. It is not seeking Christ for the purpose of blessing or for the purpose of experiencing success anywhere in life; it is a seeking after because only Christ satisfies and only Christ fulfills.
Where are you at today with this? Are you hungering and thirsting for righteousness? If you are, you will be satisfied. If you aren’t, you can start right now.
One prayer I’ve prayed before is that God would give me a greater desire for His Word and a greater passion for prayer. I think this is one of those prayers God loves to answer because He loves when His children follow and desire after Him. Pray this, change some habits, and see what happens. Begin today to hunger and thirst for righteousness only God can bring. Satisfaction may not come immediately, but keep hungering and thirsting. God is faithful.