In our western culture, do we understand hunger? Most of us have three meals a day, plus snacks. Our stomach gurgles, and we stuff it. How many of us know what it means to be famished or starved? We have little idea what it means to crave food to eat, because we have it so often.
If we don't understand hunger, how can we then understand "hunger and thirst for righteousness"? How many of us really crave and yearn for righteousness? More than likely, we just play around with God. If you and I are like most, we want God's blessings, but not necessarily him. We will spend a lot time of praying for physical things, but we will spend little time praying to know him and little effort seeking to be like him. How often have you expressed a desire for God's righteousness in prayer?
I am reading a book by Thomas Watson called The Beatitudes. I have appreciated very much his writing on Jesus' fourth beatitude, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness." Let me share just a couple of his points from his book to make you thirsty. (purple print)
"These hungerings after righteousness proceed from love. A man does not desire that which he does not love. If you did not love Christ, you could not hunger after him." We desire what we love. I desire coffee ice cream, because I love coffee ice cream. Since I love playing tennis, I desire to play tennis. I love the work that I do, thus I desire to work. We desire what we love. If we love Jesus little, we will hunger for Jesus little. If we love Jesus much, we will hunger and desire him and his righteousness much. Be thankful for the hunger and thirst you do have, but ask God to increase your thirst.
"To persuade men to hunger after his righteousness, consider two things:
1. Unless we hunger after righteousness we cannot obtain it. God will never throw away his blessings upon them that do not desire them....
2. If we do not thirst here (on earth) we shall thirst when it is too late (in eternal life)." Read Luke 16:24.
"Helps to Spiritual Hunger"
1. "Avoid those things which will hinder your appetite." Like a mother telling a child not to eat snacks before dinner, we often fill ourselves with the wrong things that take away our hunger. Yet these things will not satisfy us. Our spirit was meant to be filled with God. When we put anything else in our spirit other than God, it, it will only temporarily appease our hunger, if at all. In some ways, it is like sweets. Sweets sure taste good, but they have little nutritional value. They distract us from healthy food that fills us and nourishes us. In the same way, we often try to satisfy our spirit with the things of the world, but they just don't offer the same satisfaction as the things of God.
2. "Do all that may provoke spiritual appetite." Thomas Watson then challenges us to exercise. Just as physical exercise makes us hungrier, so spiritual exercises (worship, meditation, prayer, confession, giving, Scripture reading...)increase our spiritual hunger. Affliction also increases our spiritual appetite. When we are "at the end of ourselves," we seek or hunger for God more.