A good meal is always very satisfying. It is particularly delightful when we are able to enjoy the food we like, presented in a way that tantalizes our senses. And, most of all, we are truly satisfied when we are replete without being overfull. There is an irony here because when it comes to hungering and thirsting after righteousness, we are never perfectly satisfied.
Indeed, one of the questions we need to ask ourselves is, ‘Do I really hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness?’ As I indicated last Wednesday, the context of Jesus’ words here refers to moral righteousness, not legal righteousness. Jesus is speaking of a righteousness of life that is consistent with the mind and character of God. It is a quality of life that is measured by the nature and integrity of Jesus’ own life.
Luke’s gospel records the words of the officer in charge of the crucifixion. Seasoned soldier though he was, he offered his verdict about Jesus. He’d seen men die before. He’d heard their agonized groans. But he had felt the darkness; he had heard Jesus shout, and he had seen the way Jesus died. ‘Surely this man is a righteous man,’ he said.
How true! Righteous Jesus was: the most righteous man who has ever walked this earth. No deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate. Instead he put himself in the hands of the judge who judges justly. And in that voluntary sacrifice, we’re told, he bore our guilt in his body. He had no personal sins of his own to die for: he hadn’t committed any. He is the one man who always treated God as God in his life.
KEEPING AMBITION IN PERSPECTIVE
Let me ask: ‘What is your ambition in life?’ Martyn Lloyd Jones, one of the great preachers in London last century, commented: I do not know of a better test that anyone can apply to himself or herself in this whole matter of the Christian profession than a verse like this. If this verse is to you one of the most blessed statements of the whole of Scripture, you can be quite certain you are a Christian; if it is not, then you had better examine the foundations again.
If we claim to be Christian but are not hungering and thirsting for the righteousness of which Jesus speaks, we need to ask whether we really know him at all. How keen are we to put in the hard yards to search the Scriptures, so that we will grow in maturity in understanding the mind and the will of God in order to live more righteous lives? Many professing Christians give a nod to God on Sundays but give little thought to making godly decisions the rest of the week. It’s so important we read and re-read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and passages such as Ephesians 4:17-6:4. Only when we soak our minds in God’s thoughts will we be better placed to bring a social righteousness to bear at church and in the wider community.
TO BE TRULY FILLED
When we begin to understand the real meaning of righteousness as Jesus uses it here, we will hunger and thirst for more. For we will see that righteousness is not just about a duty but the quality of life we are designed for. Living God’s way is the most satisfying way to live.
The great thing is, Jesus promises that when we hunger and thirst after righteousness we will be filled. The irony is we will long for more. One of my favorite desserts is key lime pie. But even though I am satisfied when I have some, I always long for more! So it is with the righteousness of which Jesus speaks. However, the great news is that the day will come when we will be perfectly satisfied, for all will be perfect.