HAPPY: Are Those Who Hunger & Thirst After Righteousness
Matthew 5:6 KJV - "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."
As I have stated before I believe that the Beatitudes describe a process that develops the character and image of Jesus in those who allow the Holy Spirit to take them through it. The word "Blessed" simply means "Happy". Enduring this process is also the way to experiencing a truly happy life, both now and in eternity.
STEP ONE: "Poor In Spirit"
These are they who realize that without God they have nothing. Another way to say it is that they realize that God is all that they need.
STEP TWO: "Those Who Mourn"
Jewish mourning rituals required those who had suffered loss to cease from all the normal activities in life to remember the person they had lost. Happy are those who never forget what they have learned: that without God they have nothing, and that God is all that they need.
STEP THREE: "Meek"
The meek are those who submit to another. They submit their will to God because they live in the knowledge that there is only emptiness apart from God, and that He is all that they need.
Each step positions a person for the next. Step by step we follow the Holy Spirit into the Happy life.
STEP FOUR: Hunger & Thirst After Righteousness
Jesus uses the words "Hunger" and "Thirst", things that everybody can relate to because we all experience them from time to time, and in varying degrees.
Hunger and thirst are demands from within us. Like natural hunger and thirst a person cannot turn them off, they can only be satiated for a time. They come from deep within us and can be strong.
Galatians 5:17 NLT - "The sinful nature (the flesh) wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions."
Inside of us are two competing sources of desire. They are the Flesh (the sinful nature) and the Spirit (Holy Spirit). The desires of the flesh seem so strong because they are felt in our bodies. Unlike the Spirit which is NOT connected to our bodies, but to our spirits.
The desires of the flesh come from sin which comes from Satan's nature. They are his desires that, when followed, lead to the fulfillment of his plans for us and the world. The desires of the Spirit are from God and when followed lead to the fulfillment of God's plans for us and for our world.
In step one we learn that nothing, apart from God, truly satisfies. But, as Paul teaches us, there is a part of us, an inseparable part of us, that wants what Satan wants. So realizing that God is all we need doesn't mean that the struggle to do those things that please Him is over.
Though we cannot silence these inner demands we are the ones who choose which ones we satisfy. Thank God we are no longer slaves to our sinful nature. Our faith in Jesus death, burial, and resurrection has freed us from the law, or in other words, the rule, or dominion, of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)
Ever since Adam and Eve listened to Satan, choosing the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil", we face a life full of choices and the responsibility for their outcomes. This is where so much of our troubles come from. I do not believe that this was ever God's intention for humanity. He calls Himself our Father and we His children.
The knowledge of Good and Evil comes with the loss of innocence. Children who are blessed to live in a good home and a stable environment live a pretty stress free life. The parents deal with the decisions and their outcomes. Children are free to dream and rest. I believe that this was God's plan for us.
Jesus is telling all who will hear Him that we must direct and rule our desires. We must fill ourselves with what is Right in God's mind.
I think that the best and most complete way to define righteousness is to say that it is what is Right in God's mind.
The righteousness of God is revealed through His Word, the Bible, and by the Holy Spirit who lives within those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. A close and constant relationship with both is how we satisfy the Spirit's desires within us.
Righteousness is, to our flesh, what vegetables are to most children, especially if they have tasted sugar. Set a candy bar and an apple in front of most these children and they will choose the candy bar.
The foods that are good for us can be dull or even bitter. They do not trigger a flavor explosion in our mouths like most harmful foods do. The same is true of Righteousness when compared to sin.
Most healthy people live healthy lifestyles. They deny themselves of many pleasures that are commonly indulged by others. People who would be spiritually healthy deny themselves the pleasures of sin.
With righteousness being defined as that which is right in God's mind, sin is, simply, anything else. The Bible depicts us as "Vessels", or containers. A container has a certain and limited capacity. There is only so much space.
When we come to Christ we come filled with what we've fed ourselves over our lifetime. At the moment of our conversion some of these things are removed, but not all. Over the course of our walk with Christ the Holy Spirit's job is to point out those things that are not from God. He then asks our permission to remove it. Sounds easy, right? If the Holy Spirit did all the work it would be easy. But alas, it is only Holy Spirit's job to point it out.
Jesus was the first to model this.
Philippians 2:5-7 - "5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men."
It is said, in doing the things that He did, Jesus was fulfilling righteousness. But in order for Jesus to do that He had to empty Himself out as well, submitting His will to the Father's. Jesus puts this same demand on all who would follow Him. In the Gospel of Luke, chapter nine, and verse twenty-three, Jesus says that all who would follow Him must "Deny Themselves"
In denying ourselves we are denying the flesh, the part of us that opposes what is right in God's mind.
We have two cravings within us. One that leads to righteousness and one that leads to unrighteousness. These cravings are described by Jesus as Hunger.
Hunger can, and must be directed to things that are right in the mind of God. These things are revealed to us through the Bible, God's Word, and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Remember that Jesus would send the Holy Spirit who teach, and lead us into, what is right in God's mind.
John 16:7-8 - "7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don't, the Advocate won't come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment."
Maintain fellowship with God through His Word, the Bible, and close, intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. Like a boat on a voyage through polluted waters, some of those waters get into the boat. We must continually empty ourselves of all that is not right in God's mind. This is the pathway to happiness, both in time and in eternity.
It's not glamorous and it doesn't provide much in the way of short term gratification. It's doubly hard because we cannot do it by our own power and ability, we have to learn how to do it by the power of the Holy Spirit.
What gratification it lacks in the short-term it will more than make up for through eternity.