I resumed my study of the Sermon on the Mount tonight in our midweek worship service. I am still in the beatitudes. My text was Matthew 5:6: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (ESV). I entitled the message, "How Is Your Appetite?"
I addressed three aspects of this beatitude tonight:
- The Menu for True Satisfaction: "righteousness"
- The Appetite for True Satisfaction: "hunger and thirst"
- The Blessing of True Satisfaction: "they shall be satisfied"
There was a section of the first point that I failed to cover. But I thought it was important. I wanted to explain the different ways scripture speak of righteousness and what I believe Jesus is referring to in this beatitude. Here is the section of the manuscript:
Scripture speaks of righteousness several different ways. First of all, there is positional or forensic righteousness, which is the sovereign act by which God declares sinners righteous through faith in Jesus’ blood and righteousness. This is not what Jesus is talking about in our text. Unsaved or unconverted people do not desire to be justified unless or until God changes their heart and leads them to saving faith in Christ. And those who have declared righteous need not hunger and thirst for it. Likewise, there is what you call social righteousness, which involves caring for widows and orphans, providing for those in need, and seeking justice for those who have been wronged. As important as social righteousness is, this is not what Jesus is talking about in our text. He is not saying that all who desire to see the world become a better place are blessed and will have their desires fulfilled. What Jesus is speaking of here is what is called personal or progressive righteousness. That is, those who have been justified by God through faith in Christ demonstrate their righteous standing by a sincere and strong desire to have their daily life be conformed to the righteous position. This is what Jesus blesses in this beatitude. He affirms the citizen of the kingdom of heaven who desires his or her life on earth to be marked by continual and increasing conformity to the will of God.
I was moved today as I thought about a line from Ray Pritchard's book, He's God and We're Not. Commenting on this beatitude, Pritchard writes: "Whatever righteous thing you desire in the spiritual realm, you can have if you want it badly enough." Wow! If this statement is true, that means we should live without excuses. We can blame nothing or no one else for our spiritual condition. If this beatitude is true, we can be as close to God as we want to be.
I was glad to be home and in my own pulpit tonight. I was encouraged those who told me that they missed me. It is good to be missed.
Next Wednesday's Message: "A Conspiracy of Kindness" (Matthew 5:7).