Happy are the Hungry


Happy Are the Hungry
Matthew 5:6
Take your Bible will you and look with me at Matthew Chapter 5 and verse 6, Matthew Chapter 5, verse 6. As you know, we've been studying the Beatitudes, been studying the Sermon on the Mount. 
Let me read verses 1 to 6 to set the pace for what comes in verse 6.  
In studying this Sermon on the Mount, Matthew Chapter 5 through 7, we are studying the teaching of Jesus Christ. The overall theme of Matthew is to present Christ as king.   
Throughout the book of Matthew, he emphasizes some element of the kingliness of Christ. Whether it's a kingly line in His genealogy, whether it's the worship of he Magi who are the official king makers, whether it's the fulfilling of the kingly prophecies of the Old Testament, whether it's the dominion that He has over Satan, whatever it is, Matthew's perspective is to present Christ as king.
Now when he comes to Chapter 5, he presents the principles of the kingdom. If indeed He is a king, of what nature is His kingdom. Well, he describes His kingdom in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. 
It is here that we discover it is a spiritual kingdom and its characteristics are spiritual characteristics. So this is a spiritual description of the kingdom of the king. It is just another way to present the fact that Jesus is indeed the king. 
Now, as we look at the Sermon on the Mount, we find that it is a masterful presentation of the conditions for entering His kingdom and the characteristics of those who are in His kingdom. 
And begins with the introduction here in the first 12 verses where Jesus introduces this sermon by telling us that it's happiness that He's after. It's blessedness that He is offering. 
That is His attention-getter. Jesus knows that the world is looking for happiness; that people want to know blessedness. They want to know blissfulness. They want to be happy and have meaning in life and be joyful. And so He starts out by saying I'm offering you happiness. But His presentation is not exactly what they expected. He was offering them happiness in a way they had never heard in their lives and consequently it fascinated them. And by the time He was done, they were more than fascinated, they were absolutely astonished at what He had said.
And so our Lord is offering real happiness, real blessedness, but it is the kind of blessedness that only comes by being a part of His kingdom. These are the truths of His kingdom. And so as I said they express both a necessary condition for entering the kingdom as well as a characteristic of those who dwell in the kingdom. People say are the truths here in the Beatitudes how you get in the kingdom or how you live in the kingdom. And the answer is yes. 
They are all about how you are when you come into the kingdom and how you will be as you live in the kingdom. 
In other words, to enter the kingdom, you must be poor in spirit. And as you live in the kingdom you continue recognize your spiritual poverty. 
In order to enter the kingdom, you must mourn over your sin. And as you continue living in the kingdom as a son of God, you will mourn over your sin. 
In order to enter the kingdom, you must come in meekness, not pride. A proud man can't enter and once you're in the kingdom meekness continues to be your attitude as you look at God and as God becomes more and more wonderful as you study and learn more. 
And in order to enter the kingdom, you must hunger and thirst after righteousness. And once you're in the kingdom, you'll continue to hunger and thirst for more of that same righteousness. 
So it is both a condition for entrance and a characteristic of living in the kingdom. This is a description of coming in and living in His kingdom.
Now let's look at verse 6, this particular aspect. "Blessed are they who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, for they shall be filled." 
Now this Beatitude speaks of a very strong desire. It speaks of driving pursuit. It speaks of a passionate force inside of us. An ambition, if you will. There is nothing wrong with ambition if it's for the right thing. 
You say, what's the right thing? 
Jesus says, Righteousness. That's the right thing. "Happy are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness." 
Now this is a strong statement. Food and water are necessities, but so is righteousness. 
That's the first indication of this Beatitude. You need righteousness like you need food and water.  It isn't wrong to hunger. It isn't wrong to thirst. It is the most normal thing. It is the most common drive. It is the most necessary drive, and so it is with righteousness. Our physical life depends on food and water. Our spiritual life depends on righteousness. You can't live physically without food and water, and you'll never live spiritually without righteousness.
When you think of the physical aspect it will help give you an idea of the intensity that the words of Jesus have here. 
Ever since Joseph met his brothers in Egypt in Genesis, the world has been cursed with famine and probably even before that. Famine came to Rome in 436 B.C. and it cause thousands of people to literally throw themselves into the Tiber River and drown themselves, rather than die of starvation. 
Famine struck England in 1005 and all Europe suffered famine in the years 879, 1016, and 1162. And even in the 19th Century, the last Century with some advances made in technology and commerce, hunger stalked Russia, China, India, and Ireland so that masses of humanity died. And today it goes on. 
Today in parts of Africa and parts of India, thousands die of malnutrition and the accompanying diseases. Hundreds more perish in parts of Latin America. Hunger is like war. It's like pestilence. It just kills. It just consumes. 
And so food and water are so necessary, but all the horrors that are imaginable of physical hunger pale when compared to the horror of spiritual hunger that is unfulfilled. Spiritual thirst that is unquenched. Physical elements are only a small token of a deeper more serious hunger that faces mankind, and that is a spiritual hunger. 
Jesus is here saying that the real thing that a man needs is righteousness. And anybody coming into my kingdom and anybody living in my kingdom has as great an appetite and thirst for that as a man does for food and water.
Unsaved people do have ambition. They have hunger and they have thirst, physically. And I guess they have thirst for happiness and hunger for fulfillment, but they seem to find it in the wrong place. 
In fact, Peter compares the unsaved to a dog that goes back and licks up its vomit. Peter compares the unsaved to a pig that goes back and wallows in its own mire. You see the world is trying to feed on what is not nourishing. The world is trying to feed on that which cannot fulfill its need. The heart of every person in the world, believer or unbeliever, the heart of every man ever made was created for a...with a hunger for God. 
But man tries to satisfy the hunger for God with all the false things. With the garbage, the husks of the hogs, like the prodigal son. There he is. His heart hungers to be fed and he feeds on the hogs' food. The dog goes back and licks its vomit. They don't seek the bread of life.  
Jesus offered Himself as that bread. He knew people were hungry. He offered Himself as that water. He knew they were thirsty. 
Jeremiah said it like this in Jeremiah 2:13: "They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters and have hewed them out cisterns," what kind, "broken cisterns that can hold no water." 
In other words, God has made man with a thirst and a hunger for Him, but man refuses the well of living water and makes himself broken cisterns that can't even hold water. It's so sad to see people hunger and thirst for the wrong things. Hunger and thirst for happiness and meaning and fulfillment and inevitably try to fill themselves up with self-indulgent, pleasures, possessions, power and praise.
The prodigal son, he longed for the pleasure. He long to possess, he longed for the popularity of a riotous life, but he went hungry in his soul and finally he had the sense to come to himself and say how many of my father's servants have bread enough and to spare. Why am I doing this? And he went back to his father's house and he was given a feast and that feast is a picture of a spiritual feast.
What a vivid picture of the world that tries to fill itself with the husks of the swine. Tries to fill itself with the pleasures of sin and it comes up absolutely empty and those who respond to the Spirit of God come running back to the Father and there is a feast to fill up the empty heart, to fill up the hungry soul, the thirsty soul.
1 John Chapter 2 warns that you can't get satisfied in the world. "Love not the world neither the things that are in the world." What's in the world? The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, and none of that stuff abides forever. It's just wind.
So right at the start ask yourself this, as we begin our study, what are you hungry for? That is extremely significant because the answer you give to that question will determine whether you're in the kingdom or not. What do you hunger for?
The blessed hunger and thirst after righteousness. Those in His kingdom hunger and thirst for righteousness. 
Now let's ask some key questions as we have for each of the Beatitudes. 
Question number one, how does this Beatitude fit in with the others? 
Well notice, first of all, in verse 3, it says "Blessed are the poor in spirit." We talked about the fact that that means morally bankrupt. That is the recognition that you are destitute of any righteous thing. That is the recognition that before God you stand absolutely stripped naked and empty. 
That is the recognition when you've added up all the pluses of your life, they are zero. That is the recognition that you cannot help yourself. You are hopeless. You are sinful.
And that is followed by the next one. "Blessed are they that mourn." And that is the response to that recognition. When you see yourself and you're broken in your spirit. You will mourn. Here is the sorrow that comes over the moral bankruptcy. 
And then there is meekness. Meekness says look at me in comparison to God, I am nothing. And meekness is humility and when you see your sin and you are broken and you mourn, you will take a place of meekness before God. And in your meekness before God, you realize that the only hope you have of ever knowing righteousness is to seek it at his hand and so you come to the fourth Beatitude and you hunger and thirst after what you know is not yours on your own.
So the progression is simple. Martin Lloyd Jones writes, "This Beatitude follows logically from the previous ones. It is a statement to which all the others lead. It is the logical conclusion to which they come. It is something for which we should all be profoundly thankful and grateful to God. 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're a Christian. If it is not, you had better examine your foundations again."
What is he saying? If you have been broken in your spirit and are overwhelmed with your sinfulness and you mourn over your sinfulness and then you look up to recognize the holiness of God, the response should be that you hunger and thirst for what He has that you need. And if you do not hunger and thirst after righteousness, you are not a citizen of God's kingdom. 
Isn’t it interesting that our society chases all the wrong things. They chase money, materialism, fame, popularity, pleasure, usually all because of greed, not need, but it's all the wrong stuff. And the sad part of it is, even though the United States grants us the pursuit of happiness, people don't find it, because they define happiness in a wrong way. Happiness is money. Happiness is pleasure. Happiness is having material things. 
Jesus says: happiness is brokenness, happiness is mourning, happiness is meekness, happiness is hungering and thirsting after righteousness.
But notice the response to each of those. 
Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
They shall be comforted. 
They shall inherit the earth. 
They shall be filled." Isn't that fabulous? 
If you sum that all up, you know what you get? You get everything there is. You're filled, you inherit the earth, you're comforted and you inherit the kingdom of heaven. In other words, iif you meet God’s conditions, everything is going to be yours. 
The world is working like mad to gain material things to gain money, to gain all of this stuff, when if they came into God's kingdom on His terms, they'd get it all in the end anyway.  
People are breaking their neck and ruining their life trying to get what God wants to give. And going at it the way you're trying to go to get it, you'll never get it. Come on God's conditions where you don't try to get it, you'll get it. In other words, it's available as a gift. You just can't earn it. So Jesus is saying, why are you working so hard to get all of this? 
The Jews were working to bring in the kingdom. They were trying their best to be comforted in a very difficult situation. And they wanted to inherit the earth so bad, they could taste it. And they were trying to fill up their life with meaning. And they were chasing all in the wrong way and the Lord simply says to them, I'll give you everything you want. I'll give you the kingdom. I'll give you present comfort. I'll fill your life with everything it needs to satisfy. I'll give you the whole earth. You can have the whole deal if you'll just come on my conditions, brokenness, mournfulness, meekness, hungering, thirsting for righteousness.
The basis is God's promise and once we believe God's promise we don't have to try so hard to get all this stuff. I read my Bible this way, God says Terry, you're my child, you'll inherit the earth, so why should I spend all my time on my own right now trying to get it? It doesn't make any sense if it's going to be mine anyway. I don't mind some other people borrowing it for a while. It's all coming back to me based on His promise.
This is the whole basis of motivation in the Sermon on the Mount. 
You enter God's kingdom and you know it's all yours anyway. That thought is important to all the teaching of Jesus. For instance: look at verse 40 of Matthew 5. "If a man sues you at the law and takes away your coat, let him have your cloak also." Why? You're going to have all you need in the kingdom. What do you care? "And whosoever wants you to go a mile, go two. Give to him that asks thee and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away."
Listen, don't hang onto the stuff of the world. Don't try to be possessive. Don't try to grab it all, it'll all be yours anyway. So share it. 
If you're saying look all I want God is Your righteousness, all I want is to be meek before You, all I want is to have Your kingdom on Your terms. You know His promise in the end is that you'll inherit everything, everything.
He said it this way in Chapter 6 also, verse 33, listen to this one. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His," what, "righteousness and," what, "all these things shall be," what, "added unto you." Added unto you. 
You see, it's all yours anyway on God's terms. So Jesus says: “Happy are the hungry. There's pain in verse 3, broken in spirit.”
There's pain in verse 4, mourning. There's pain in verse 5, meekness, the death of self. But there's the comfort of verse 6. Hungering and thirsting, that's the solution. 
You begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness. That's why this Beatitude fits here because it makes sense. You take a person broken over sin, meek before a holy God knowing he has nothing he can do in himself to gain or inherit anything, who then reaches out in a hunger and thirst for that which only God can give.  
Let's take a second question, what does it mean to hunger and thirst? 
We've already hinted at it. It has to do with desire. And by the way, a great and intense desire. The force of Christ's words here are just powerful particularly in that culture. 
Most of us don't know what it is to hunger and thirst as Jesus is describing and so we don't understand this. When you think of thirsty, you think of you've gone out and run around a little bit and you're thirsty. You don't know what it is to be in the midst of a drought where you've had no water for days.
When you think of hunger you mean its 1 o'clock and you're used to eating at 12:15. You don't know what it means to be hungry. You don't know what it is to go without food, but the idea is desperation. 
There's an interesting book written by Major V. Gilbert entitled The Last Crusade. The book is written about the British liberation of Palestine in World War I. An excerpt from the book records this incident: 
"Driving up from Beersheba, a combined force of British Australians and New Zealanders were pressing on the rear of the Turkish retreat over arid desert. The attack outdistanced its water carrying camel train." 
In other words, they got so far ahead of their water, they were separated. 
"The water bottles were empty, the sun blazed pitilessly out of a sky where the vultures wheeled about expectantly. Our heads ached," writes Major Gilbert, "our eyes became bloodshot and dim in the blinding glare. Our tongues began to swell. Our lips turned to a purplish black and begin to burst. 
Those who dropped out of the column were never seen again, but the desperate force struggled on to Sheria. There were wells at Sheria and had they been unable to take the place by nightfall, thousands were doomed to die of thirst. And so we fought that day," writes Major Gilbert, "as men fought for their lives. We entered Sheria's station on the heels of the retreating Turks. The first objects which met our view were the great stone cisterns full of cold, clear, drinking water. And in the still night air, the sound of water running into the tanks could be distinctly heard maddening in its nearness. Yet not a man murmured when orders were given for the battalions to fall in two deep facing the cisterns.
He describes the stern priorities, the wounded, those on guard duty, then company by company. It took four hours before the last man had his drink of water. And in all that time, they had been standing 20 feet from a low stone wall on the other side of which were thousands of gallons of water. 
I believe," Major Gilbert concludes, "that we all learned our first real Bible lesson on the march from Beersheba to Sheria wells. If such were our thirst for God and for righteousness, for His will in our life, a consuming, all embracing, preoccupying desire, how rich in the fruit of the spirit would we be."
Now that's what Jesus is trying to say. He's talking about hunger and thirst to people who understood what it meant. The Greek verbs are just very powerful. 
Jesus is describing suffering from hunger and thirst. It has the idea of a deep hunger, not just superficiality. And by the way, they are in a continuous present participle. The ones who are hungering. The ones who are thirsting. It is a continuous thing. 
This is not just descriptive of the one coming to Christ for the first time, but for the one already in the kingdom
When I came to Jesus Christ, I hungered and thirsted for His righteousness and now that I know Him, I hunger and thirst for more of it right? That's what He's saying. 
In fact, Lenski, the great commentator says "This hunger and this thirst increases in the very act of being satisfied." It is a present, continuous thing. It is a moment by moment way of life. When you become a Christian, you don't stop. Listen, look at your life. 
If you don't hunger and thirst for righteousness, there's a question whether you're even in the kingdom. 
Let me give you an illustration from the life of Moses. Moses had seen God. Moses, when he was in the wilderness for 40 years, had God call him. And he came and he saw God in a blazing burning bush. He had seen God. He saw the Shekinah of God as it were blazing in the bush and God said to him, "Take your shoes off Moses, you're standing on holy ground." 
And later on when God went back to lead Israel out of that land, he saw God. He saw God's hand in the miracles, the plaques. He saw God when God parted the Red Sea and let them all walk through and then drown all of the Egyptian army. He saw God as they moved guided by that great Shekinah glow of God in the heavens. He saw God.
He knew what it was to hunger after God and be filled. Later you will find him, in obedience to God's command, building a tabernacle. And when the tabernacle was completed, the glory of God came into that place because Moses said to Him, "God I want to see Your glory." 
You might say Moses, enough is enough. I mean, you have really seen a lot of stuff. And Moses would say, but not enough. God took him up into the mountain and God showed him a flaming finger that scratched the law of God in the tables of stone in the side of a mountain. And when Moses came down it wasn't enough. But he said, "Show me Your glory." 
And when he came down, he was lit up. And as the glory began to diminish, he went back up the mountain and he looked again at God's glory and then he came down. And then he went back again. It was never enough. It was never enough.
"I beseech you," he says in Exodus 33:18. "I beg you show me your glory." You see this is the character of a son of the kingdom. You see he never is satisfied. There is dissatisfaction in the very satisfaction itself. Always the hunger for more. 
I think of David. David, the man after God's own heart, David who walked in close communion with God, David who wrote the Psalm "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He maketh me lie down in green pastures. His rod and His staff they comfort me," he'd known God. He'd know God in his life. God had protected him. God had cared for him. God had guided Him. God had directed him. Zeal for God's house had eaten him up. He knew God in an intimacy. You would say oh there's a man who knows God. A man out of whom the Psalms flowed like water out of a stream.
In Psalm 63 he says, "Oh God, thou art my God." But it didn't stop there. He said, "Early will I seek thee my soul thirsts for thee, my flesh longs for thee in a dry and thirsty land where no water is." 
What he's saying is that the hunger and the thirst never diminishes. In a true child of the kingdom, it's a way of life. 
Listen to the apostle Paul in Philippians Chapter 3 where we were this morning. Why you say Paul, you've known all there is to know. I mean, you in your lifetime had personal visions of Jesus Christ beginning on the Damascus Road. And then when you were in jail in Jerusalem. And then my goodness Paul called up into the third heaven to see things too wonderful to behold. Oh Paul what else can be said? Paul you who write all the theology, you who have penned the great expressions of divine truth in the New Testament, what more could you want. And the cry of his heart in Philippians 3:10 is "Oh that I may know Him." And the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings," it's never enough, it's never enough.
Sure he knew the law, he says in verse 6. "I knew the righteousness of the law, but I counted that as refuse, dung, I just want to know God." 
And you hear Peter who cries out "Grow in grace and grow in the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, it's never enough." 
There was a Mr. Darby, a great man of God in the early days of the Plymouth Brethren Movement, who said this, "To be hungry is not enough. I must be really starving to know what is in God's heart toward me. When the prodigal son was hungry he went to feed on the husks, but when he was starving he went to his Father." 
That's what Jesus is talking about, the kind of desperation that only God can satisfy.
In Luke 1:53, in the Magnificat of Mary, the she sang of her newborn Child: "He hath filled the hungry with good things, but the rich He sent away empty." 
The people who had all they needed went away empty. And so we see why this Beatitude falls into this place and we see what it means to hunger and thirst. It's a tremendously intense thing and it knows no end. 
Third question, what is this righteousness that we hunger for? 
Amos said, "That people in the world pant after the dust of the earth." That's pretty stupid, but they do. The world just pants after the dirt of the earth. 
For what are we to hunger?
Well, some people would say happiness. That's what the world wants. They want happiness. 
I am amazed by the number of amusements we have in our society. Now, I'm not against Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm and Magic Mountain and who knows what all else and all of the games people play, but our life is so full of amusements trying to make people happy, entertainment. Actually it’s not happiness. It is more distraction. 
In many ways we are like a man with a painful disease who just wants to be relieved of his pain, but doesn't then want to bother with the disease.
So he goes to the doctor and the doctor says well, I can relieve your pain, give you a shot, a bunch of pills. But he doesn’t do anything to diagnose and cure the disease. 
And you see the world has a disease, and it wants to eliminate the pain with happiness, but it never wants to deal with the disease. So the world is hungry and thirsty for happiness. 
And you want to know something else? That's even true in the church. I meet a lot of people who are Christians and what they really want is happiness. You say what do I mean by that? They're after some kind of an ecstasy. I think this is very true in the charismatic movement. They want a holy high, I call it. They want an experience. They want a spiritual ecstasy. They want a feeling. 
And there are a lot of other people, they run to a seminar and they run to a conference or to a counselor to try to get some spiritual happiness. 
People say well, I'm so miserable in my home. I've got to find a way, how can I be happy? Listen: happiness is not to be the object of your search. That is not what you're to be after. Happiness is a by-product. Happy are those who hunger and thirst after what? Righteousness.
You want to be happy, it comes as a by-product of righteousness. It's not any holy high you get with some zap. It's not some experience you find. That isn't what it is.
We are to desire righteousness.
Now what is righteousness? Righteousness speaks of justification; of begin made right with God. 
Listen: this is amazingly simple. The only real happiness in life is to be right with God. That's it. The only real happiness in life is to be right with God. 
And I believe this points to two things. First of all, salvation and second of all sanctification.
Let's talk about salvation for a minute. Somebody who hungers and thirsts after righteousness, first of all, seeks salvation; the righteousness that comes when you believe; the righteousness that's given to you in Christ. 
He sees his sin. He sees his rebellion. He sees himself separated from a holy God. He is broken. He is mournful. He is meek and he wants so much to restore himself to God. He wants forgiveness and so he hungers and thirsts after the righteousness that comes in salvation. It is a desire to be free from self. It is a desire to be free from sin, its power, its presence, and its penalty. And this is what initiates salvation. 
If you hunger and thirst after righteousness, it's at the moment of salvation you receive it. 
Actually, we can put salvation in as a substitute word. "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after salvation." You want to be happy? Hunger for salvation, hunger to be saved, hunger to have the blood of Christ cleanse your sin. Hunger to have the righteousness of Christ applied to you. Hunger to have your sin forgiven. 
But there's a second element. I think it also implies sanctification. Just because you get saved doesn’t mean you stop hungering and thirsting.  
My desire is no longer to be saved, but to be “more saved”. We hunger and thirst for sanctification; for an increasing holiness. 
I hope in your life there is this hunger that never stops, the desires to be more and more like Christ. This is a mark of a Christian. You keep on hungering, you keep on thirsting to desire more virtue, a greater purity, more Christ-likeness. You never get to the place where you've arrived.
That is the most disgusting, revolting, sickening attitude there is. Both by unregenerate people who say well, we've saved ourselves and by Christians who think they've arrived. Sons of the kingdom never stop hungering. 
Paul says in Philippians 1:9, "I pray that your love may abound yet more and more." See? You're not done. No matter how much you love, you ought to love more. No matter how much you pray, you ought to pray more. No matter how much you obey, you ought to obey more. No matter how much you think like Christ, you ought to think like Christ more. This should be the consuming desire. 
Never ending, "Blessed are they which do continually hunger and thirst."
It isn't that we're just seeking bits and pieces of righteousness. We are seeking all the righteousness there is. Did you get that? We are seeking the totality of righteousness, to be like Christ. 
Let me show you why this is important. I am not a Greek expert, but I am fascinated by the Greek language and how it works. 
In the Greek language, verbs like hunger and thirst are normally followed by the pronoun “of”. A Greek would say "I hunger for of food. I thirst for of water." That usage delineates that he wants part of it. 
He would never say I hunger for food, because to him that would represent all the food there was. He's got to have a case which limits it. The verb usage puts a limit on the amount. It gives it direction. 
In other words, I don't want all the food in the world, I just want some. He would never say I thirst for water, not all the water of the world. He would say I thirst for of water, a part of water, enough for my thirst. This is normal. This is normal expression for the Greek to use in his language.
Now what fascinated me is as I studied this is that in this passage that normal use of the Greek is abandoned. You would have thought that it would say blessed are they who do hunger and thirst for of righteousness. But it doesn't. It drops the normal Greek expression and takes on a completely different usage. 
Jesus says, The ones who are blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. All there is. It's a tremendous truth. And we're never satisfied, because no matter how much righteousness we may have by God's grace, we don't have all there is. And so the hunger and the thirst goes on. 
And we cry out with David, "I will be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness and I will not be satisfied until I do."
So it begins with salvation and it continues with sanctification and you could never be satisfied with a part of it. You can only be satisfied with all of it, with all of it. 
It is also intriguing to me that hungering and thirsting after righteousness is commended rather than possessing righteousness. 
Understand? Jesus didn’t say blessed are those who possess righteousness. It is those who are desiring righteousness.  
You see, the Jews would have thought He would have said "blessed are they who possess righteousness," and they would have all gone see that's us. We all possess it. And He literally blasted it. "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness." 
In other words, the people who think they've got it, don’t. Therefore they aren't blessed. The people who know they don't are and the blessing is theirs.. Isn't that great? When you think you're righteous, you're the most desperate you've ever been.
He blesses those who hunger and those who thirst and in that very blessing is the thought that you can't ever be fulfilled. 
Someone said "this is a thirst no earthly stream can satisfy. A hunger that must feed on Christ or die." I call it divine discontent. 
So we see how this Beatitude fits, what righteousness is, and what it means to desire it.  
What is the result?  
First, He says, "Blessed," and last He says, "they shall be “filled." The word filled is a word used to fodder up an animal. It's a word used to feed an animal. It means to be absolutely satisfied. They shall be satisfied. 
God wants to make us happy and satisfied. Satisfied with what? Well, what are we hungering for? What are we hungering for? Hungering and thirsting after righteousness, they should be satisfied.
Isn't this a fabulous paradox? You're satisfied, but never satisfied. You hunger and thirst and you're satisfied, but never really satisfied. 
Maybe it's this way, have you ever had that really great meal your grandma makes? I mean, the best meat, and side dishes and desserts? Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house!
So satisfying that it leaves you wanting more. Wishing you had a bigger stomach so you could eat some more because the taste and the fulfillment and the satisfaction of what I've already taken makes me want more. And so I'm satisfied but I'm not satisfied. 
So it is with righteousness: we are filled and the filling is so sweet and so rich and so full that there's more that we desire. 
Psalm 107:9, says, "He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness." 
Psalm 34:10, "But they that seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing." 
Psalm 23:1, "I shall not want. My cup runs over." 
Jeremiah 31:14, "My people shall be satisfied with my goodness saith the Lord." 
Jesus said in John 4 to the woman at the well, "If you drink this water you will never thirst again." 
In John 6, He said, "I am the bread of life. Eat this bread, you will never hunger again." 
Listen, Jesus satisfies. And yet there is a blessed dissatisfaction that even wants more and more and more and will only be satisfied when we see Jesus Christ. 
I'm going to ask you a final question. Personal question: 
How do I know if I'm really hungering and thirsting after righteousness? 
Let me ask you some questions. 
Number one, Are you dissatisfied with yourself
Are you deeply dissatisfied? Do you find yourself in Romans 7 all the time saying, "Oh wretched man that I am who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" 
If there is in you any sense of satisfaction, I wonder whether you know what it is to hunger and thirst after righteousness.
Are you dissatisfied with yourself? That's a symptom of someone who hungers and thirsts after righteousness. And no matter how good they may appear, they still are dissatisfied.
Second, does anything external satisfy you? 
Do you find things bear influence on how you feel?  Things go better in your life if you just buy something new. You fill up your appetite with the wrong stuff and then you lose that appetite. Listen to this, a hunger for righteousness will be satisfied with nothing else. You can bring a hungry man flowers, you can bring a hungry man beautiful music, you can take a hungry man pleasant conversation, but all he wants is food. You can take a thirsty person a melody or a rose, but what he wants is water. And one who hungers and thirsts after righteousness will not and cannot be satisfied with anything else.
Let me ask you a third question, do you have a great appetite for the word of God? 
What's our food? Where do we find the righteousness of God/ Jeremiah said, "Thy words were found and I did eat them." If you're hungering and thirsting after righteousness, you will have such an appetite for the word that you will devour it. I've never seen anybody beg a hungry man to eat. do you have a great appetite for the word.
Fourth question, are the things of God sweet to you? 
Proverbs 27:7 "To the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet." Did you hear that? "To the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet." 
You can tell somebody hungering and thirsting after righteousness because when God brings devastation in their life, they're filled and satisfied because they know it's God, even though it's painful. 
Did you get that? There are some people that can only rejoice when good things happen and when touch things happen, they don't like it. Well, they're not hungering and thirsting after righteousness. They're chasing happiness superficially.
Finally, ask yourself if your hunger or thirst is unconditional. 
If you really hunger and thirst after righteousness, it will be unconditional. You say what do you mean by that? 
Well, you remember the rich young ruler who came and said, "Well, I want to know how I can enter the kingdom?" And the Lord said, "Really? Are you willing to sell all you have and give to the poor?" "No." He was hungry, but his hunger was conditional and he never was filled. 
What about yours? You say oh I want Christ and my sin, Christ and my pride, Christ and my illicit relationship, Christ and my cheating at school, Christ and my lying in my business, Christ and my covetousness, Christ and my materialism,
Christ and Christ and. Then you're not hungering and thirsting after righteousness.
A hungry man does not want food and a new suit. A thirsty man does not want food and a new pair of shoes. He could care less about the suit and the shoes. Just give him the food and the water and he is satisfied. 
How did you do on the test? Are you a person who hungers and thirsts after righteousness? Oh Isaiah said in Isaiah 26:9, "With my soul have I desired thee in the night. Yeah with my spirit within me shall I seek thee early." 
David thirsted for God early. The wise virgins had their oil before the bridegroom came, they thirsted, they prepared early. And you know what, there are some people who are going to thirst too late and they're going to be like the rich man in Luke 16:24. 
They're going to say, "Oh send someone who can dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue for I'm tormented in this flame."   And they'll finally thirst when there can be no remedy. Thirst now and be filled. Let's pray.
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