Scripture: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 ESV
Observation: This fourth beatitude addresses a passion for righteousness (dikaiosynē in biblical Greek). As most evangelical commentators agree, there are three elements in view here:
- justice executed on earth,
- ethical godliness in our lives, and
- God’s salvation for those who earnestly seek him.
And while we yearn for these three elements of righteousness, we understand that our Triune God alone initiates and fulfills our deepest longings. We see this thread’s seminal at Jesus’ baptism when John the Baptist contends that he, not Jesus, needs to be baptized, and Jesus responds, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15 ESV). Click here to read the December 6, 2022, Daily Focus for an expanded discussion on its meaning.
Regarding the second clause, in this inaugural age of our New Covenant, we continue to hunger and thirst for righteousness in part until the consummation (Christ’s return). Reformed theologians term this tension the “now-but-not-yet” aspect of our covenantal promises. For this reason, Peter writes to the church as he nears death and urges its members to lead holy and godly lives because “we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13 ESV).
Takeaway: As with the previous three beatitudes, the fourth builds on the others:
- We confess and repent of our spiritual poverty provoked by sin with the assurance that Christ’s atoning work is sufficient for salvation (v.3).
- We mourn over sin’s ill effects and seek to ameliorate the suffering it spurs through extending and receiving forgiveness and pursuing reconciliation and restitution when possible (v.4).
- We become meek-minded people who exercise wisdom and humility to grow God’s kingdom with abundant peace (v.5).
- We cooperate with the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in becoming vessels of Christ’s righteousness to right wrongs and reach the least, the last, and the lost with our Gospel (v.6, above).
So how do we manage the tension of the now-but-not-yet aspects of kingdom living? How can we curb our spiritual hunger pains? As stated above, we submit to the Holy Spirit’s refining work in and through us. And even though we know not the hour of Christ’s return, when we feel the pain in our guts and throats, when our bodies ache for more of the Righteous One, we cry out with John the Gospeller, “Come, Lord Jesus,” and our Savior replies, “Surely, I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:20 ESV). Meanwhile, we find relief and comfort in the care of our Holy Spirit and the fellowship of believers. Then we will be wholly satisfied in the glorious presence of the Father and Son, where there is no injustice, no Gospel-famished people, and no hungering and thirsting for righteousness.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son who fulfilled all righteousness and, hence, is our righteousness. So would you please help us to cooperate with the sanctifying work of your Holy Spirit and serve as vessels of Christ’s righteousness to right wrongs and reach the least, the last, and the lost with our Gospel of grace? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling