"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness..." Matthew 5: 6
Years ago, when Beve and I spent a couple of months in India, we learned something about thirst. We were told that under no condition were we to drink the water anywhere but in the home in New Delhi where we lived--where we had boiled, filtered, safe water. But Beve got sick, and with that sickness came dehydration, and with that, came a thirst unlike anything he'd ever experienced. We were in a very small village called Pushkar when that illness, and dehydration and thirst simultaneously struck. He simply had to drink water, wherever he could find it, no matter what was in it. It didn't matter that the very thing he craved made him sicker and more in need, the desire to quench his thirst overwhelmed every thing else. Common sense, even.
But it's this kind of desire Jesus is talking about in this Beatitude.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness."
There are two important things to understand about this Beatitude.
1. What Jesus calls a blessing is NOT righteousness itself, but the desire for it. Hunger and thirst are the most basic of human desires, the ones without which we could not live. It's this kind of craving, like we crave life itself, that Jesus blesses. "I must have it or I die," longing--profound and lasting. Like hunger and thirst, the longing for righteousness increases and even becomes painful in intensity. Psalm 63:1 says, "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water." This is the strength of the desire for righteousness. One's whole being aching for Him as though the world is a dehydrated desert and He the only water (which, of course, He is!).
2. It's important to understand that righteousness means to be in right relationship with God, to know Him about all else, to be in fellowship with Him and then to become Holy as He is holy. The desire to be free from sin, which is righteousness, comes from being right with God. The point, therefore, is that our hunger and thirst is to be in right relationship with the One who most longs to be in relationship with us.
So how can we NOT long for that?
Especially when we consider that the promise is "...for they will be filled." He will fill us. When Jesus spoke these words, it was before the cross and Pentecost and the Holy Spirit being given to all who call Him Lord. But we not only have this promise, we live it out daily. It's a fulfilled promise. He will fill us and He has filled us. What a spectacular thing this is. I think of Beve desperately thirsty, even as he knew the water was making him more sick and more thirsty. It's a really sad story, but our hunger and thirst is for the one thing that is pure and clean and holy. But, just as it happened with Beve, our thirst for righteousness is increased as He gives us Himself. Our longing for Him increases our longing. He satisfies our desire for Him and gives us more.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty, I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this and I will be their God and they will be my children." Revelation 22: 6-7