Monday, 5 October 2009

Hope in the Beatitudes - hungry & thirsty will be filled

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6)

Having recognised our spiritual bankruptcy before God, mourned over our sin, and submitted ourselves to His perfect and holy will, we will recognise our need for righteousness.

We in the West do not probably fully understand what it means to hunger and thirst for something. Having suffered with an eating disorder at one point in my life, I do know what hunger feels like – it is a constant pain inside, you can’t ignore it, and it occupies your thoughts every waking moment. Jesus is saying our awareness of our need for righteousness should be like this.

Our righteousness is not something we can generate for ourselves. It is an external righteousness, which has to be given to us. The Bible tells us that man’s heart is wicked. The only righteousness we can hope for is the righteousness of Christ. He is the Righteous One (1 John 2:1). When we first believe in Christ, his righteousness is imputed to us. As we go on believing in Christ, the Holy Spirit helps us to become righteous – but this is not our own righteousness, it is His. “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3).

One problem I have suffered with is that as Christ works in me and I find myself living more obediently to Him, I tend to confuse His righteousness with my own, and take pleasure in myself and a perceived “self-righteousness”. I always find this is dangerous ground to be walking on. When things are going well in my Christian life, and by God’s grace I find that I am developing more Christ-like character in certain areas, and putting to death the misdeeds of the body in other areas, this often results in self-reliance. I am not so aware of my need for forgiveness when I come before God, and I become satisfied with my Christian walk. How can this be? Even on my best day as a Christian, I desperately need the forgiveness of Christ, for my very best works as a Christian have no merit before a Holy God, they are all tainted with sin. Jesus warns us against self-reliance, when he says “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done on our duty’” (Luke 17:10). No matter how much God’s grace is working in us, we must always remember we are unworthy of His Kingdom. It is only because of Christ that we are adopted as sons into God’s family.

This is the warning that Moses gave to the Israelites just before they entered the Promised Land. He warns them that when things are going well for them in the land not to forget the Lord, otherwise “your heart will become proud...You may say to yourself ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me’."(Deuteronomy 8:14,17). Again he warns them that after the Lord has driven out their enemies from the land “do not say to yourself ‘The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness’. ..It is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people” (Deuteronomy 9:4,6). As we walk with God, and in His grace He begins His work of sanctification, let us beware of beginning to confuse His work with our own. Any goodness in me is His, not mine, for “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature” (Romans 7:18).

We must always go on hungering and thirsting for the righteousness of Christ, never being satisfied with what we know of Him, as the Psalmist says “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Ps 42:1-2).

As we hunger and thirst for this righteousness, then Jesus promises we will be filled. We will know peace within our souls, as this righteousness brings us peace and reconciliation with God. We will know that we are adopted as sons of God, and will be able to relate to God as our Heavenly Father. We will know that we have an inheritance stored up for us in heaven. We will know that when Jesus Christ returns, we will be resurrected with an imperishable body. We will experience the love and fellowship of Christ here and now. What blessing is this! Praise God!

No comments:

Post a Comment