BE-Attitude: Stay Hungry!

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6
The words of the Beatitudes in the shape of a cross

The fourth Beatitude (like the others) can appear to be a bit cryptic. I’m sure for the followers of the Nazarene who were literally living a hand-to-mouth existence (totally dependent upon the kindness of strangers) found His words to be especially confusing.

For us, though we live in a “land of plenty,” the words can be equally confusing. Food and drink we understand. Having enough to provide for our families makes sense. Providing canned goods and other supplies for the Food Panty is a “good thing.” Dropping our change in the red kettles at Christmas time is our “Christian” duty.

But the reality is that food and drink are soon digested. We know from personal experience that we will feel hunger pangs again. Our sausage McMuffin only lasts for so long. The extra large glass of water soon passes through our system leaving us dry-mouthed and wanting more. Providing for the needs of others seems to be a problem that is only getting worse as store shelves empty and food prices soar.

So, what does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness?

Abraham. The First Hero of Faith…

“Righteousness” is one of those words that is seldom used much anymore. Yet, in the Bible, it appears frequently. And in the Bible, the implication is that the word is akin to “holiness” or “being like God.” The first reference to righteousness appears in the very first book of God’s Word in reference to Abraham. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.3

The important thing about this earliest reference is that at this point in his life, Abraham has done NOTHING to earn God’s favor. At this juncture, the ONLY thing Abraham had done, according to the Scriptures, is BELIEVE GOD. That’s it! It was only as the rest of his journey unfolded that Abraham was drawn deeper and deeper into faith. He had more opportunity to obey God’s leading, meet and entertain His messengers in the wilderness, father a son at the age of 100 and face the challenges of surrendering that son in obedience to God.

As Abraham hungered and thirsted for more of God and sought for more of His presence in his life, Abraham became God’s man and received more and more of the fullness of God’s presence.

…But Not the Only One.

The Hebrews 11 spells out the other “heroes of the faith”—those who pursued the righteousness of God and found their satisfaction and fulfillment in being God’s people in a difficult time. They became children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.4

In this fifth “Be-Attitude,” Jesus invites us to stay hungry—to constantly strive to fulfill the destiny placed within us at creation when God breathed His very own Spirit into our souls. But how do we do that? How do we become the children of God? What must we do to live out our faith in such a way that we find the righteousness—the holiness—that He promised in this Beatitude?

I believe Paul gives us some guidelines in Romans 12:9-21. These thirteen verses contain a lot of instructions—some concrete “how-to’s” and some very definite direction. There is so much packed into these thirteen verses that I encourage you to re-read this Scripture later today or focus on it in your devotions throughout this week. For now, let me lift up some of the “appetizers” to sample if we are going to hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Love Sincerely

How do we do that? By turning our back on the evil, wrong and un-Godlike realities that surround us every day. We need to cling to the good, positive, hope-filled aspects of life. We must hold on to our faith in God when everything around us dares us to stop believing. When innocents die at the hands of evil, lives are destroyed by lies, families are torn apart by temptations that rob thinking humans of common sense, hate runs rampant through our city street and when hope falters, we must hold on to our faith.

We need to be reaching out to one another in pure and simple agape love. We need to follow the instruction of 1 Corinthians 13—to love one another in such a way that our love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.5

Be Joyful

Man in a field with his hands raised in joyThis is a tall order in this society. How can we pursue joy in a world stained by sin and determined to rob us of moments of happiness by overwhelming us with darkness? By focusing on God and remembering His blessings and guidance, His forgiveness and love. By relating to King David in the 42nd Psalm as he struggled with the down moments in his life.

My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
 These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God…
    with shouts of joy and praise…
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?6

But then, as he contemplates God’s joy in the days gone by, David says—

Put your hope in God, 
   for I will (again) praise Him,  
   my Savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
   therefore, I will remember You.6

Find the joy by remembering and celebrating God’s past blessing and provision. As Paul remembered God’s grace and past blessings, he reminded the Romans, be joyful I hope; patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.7

Share with God’s People

We continue to hunger and thirst after righteousness when we share with God’s people, are hospitable and generous in giving of ourselves, our time, our resources and our hope.

When we rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn,8 we are living out our calling to be God’s representatives in our world. When we seek to live in harmony with one another8 as Paul taught the Romans, surrender our pride and are willing to associate with people in low position8, dedicate ourselves to doing all within our power to live a peace with everyone8, then we are fulfilling God’s Law and will find our innate hunger and thirst for His presence satisfied.

Hunger and Thirst

Physical hunger is satisfied when we partake of a good meal. Our physical thirst is quenched by a long drink from a bubbling spring on a hot summer day. But that hunger will return as we continue to labor or slumber in our beds. Continuing to work in the yard, the kitchen, even hunching over a keyboard for a long period of time will renew our thirst for something that quenches.

But as we continue to seek God’s presence, pursue His love, mercy and grace in our own lives, work to share that love, joy and hope with others, we will become more and more like the Author and Perfector of our faith—Jesus the Christ.

And God has promised that our hunger and thirst for more of Him WILL always be satisfied.

Scriptures Used in Today’s Message

Maple UMC Calendar

September 2022

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