Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”1
When I am really hungry and/or thirsty, my brain shuts down.
I cannot work.
I cannot sleep.
I cannot relax.
Food and drink become the only thing in my mind that can satisfy. Nothing else will work. It is annoying, especially when I do not have convenient access to them, e.g., in the middle of the night when I really need to sleep instead of getting up and rummaging for something, or when I am too busy in the middle of a project at work. And when I do find something to eat, it may fill my stomach, but it may not necessarily satisfy me even if I eat more of it.
It is one thing to feel hungry and thirsty, but it is another thing to be malnourished. Just like with human bodies, people who are malnourished for an extended period of time do not die immediately—human bodies adapt in amazing ways to sustain life. But when severe malnutrition is prolonged, human bodies die a slow death if left untreated. Our spirit is likewise. We will die a slow spiritual death if we do not feed our spirit.
Do we feel the pang of hunger for righteousness as often as we feel the pang of hunger in our stomach? Do we feel parched for not replenishing our righteousness as often as we feel thirsty? Do we know what it feels like to be hungry or thirsty for righteousness?
Many people are hungry and thirsty for wealth, power, and fame. Wealth, power, and fame are the only things that they care about. But Jesus told us to hunger and thirst for righteousness and to let it become the occupying thought in our daily life. So much so that we yield our desires and wants to this hungering and thirsting after God’s righteousness in our life. The pursuit of righteousness becomes the overarching objective in the things we say and do.
“Righteousness” sounds legalistic and joyless. And that would be due to wrong perspective. Let us think about it like a hobby that we really enjoy. If we recall the times when we were just learning, those were not fun at all. But when we became proficient at it, it became second nature to us. We do not think of the rules as legalistic anymore, because the rules were what made it what it is. When we are doing our hobby, we could enjoy it so much and have fun despite the rules. We express ourselves in ways that we could not express otherwise. This is true in art, true in sport, and true in other hobbies also.
Hungering and thirsting after God’s righteousness expresses itself in a God-fulfilled life, filled with joy and peace.
Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.2
Whenever we feel hungry or thirsty, God is reminding us, “Have we pursued righteousness today?”