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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Journey to the Cross - Blessed Are They That Thirst After Righteousness

“Nothing stays constant,” Bill said."Everything changes."

At 16, my nephew Bill was a philosopher. I understood his point. When my children were small, I corrected their behavior when necessary. In fact, it was the “righteous” thing to do. Now they’re adults, and as much as it frustrates me, when I disapprove of something, the “righteous” thing to do is to mind my own business. At best, I can give my opinion once when asked. Otherwise, I have to keep quiet. I’m not sure what day the rules changed but they did change.

“That’s probably true, Bill, but only about earthly things. It isn’t true about God’s righteousness. God’s definition of right and wrong hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. Even societies who don’t follow our God, usually makes laws that resemble the Ten Commandments.”

The word “righteous” means morally upright, without guilt or sin. ( The 4th Beatitude says, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. It doesn’t say, blessed are those who are righteous. It goes on to promise to fill that hunger and thirst. The word hunger in the Greek actually means to be famished. If we’re famished for righteousness, our hunger and thirst will be satisfied.

“How can that be?” we question. “After all, none of us can be without sin. How can we ever be satisfied while we are still sinning?” The answer lies in the cross. Jesus is righteous and the cross makes us righteous. If we crave Jesus, our craving will be satisfied. If we follow Jesus, His path leads to righteousness.

Morning Meditation

Read Matthew 5:6.

Matt 5:6

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. KJV

Allow yourself to be famished for Jesus.

• Pant for Jesus, the way a deer pants for water.

• Allow your hunger and thirst to be filled.

Morning Prayer

Ask God to help you hunger and thirst for righteousness.

• Thank Him for His promise to fill us.

• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.

• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.

• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.

Morning Bible Study

Are you righteous? Studies show that most people are righteous in their own eyes but don’t see others as righteous. Even when they see righteous behavior, they are suspicious of the motives behind the actions. There is an old saying that when we point the finger at others, we point three fingers at ourselves. A truth I’ve found for myself is that when I’m accusing others of something, I’m usually the one guilty of the very behavior I’m angry at them for. For today, let’s look at ourselves, our motives, and let others work on themselves.

As we have with the other Beatitudes, we are going to study different translations and paraphrases of Matthew 5:6.

Matt 5:6

Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied! AMP

You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat. The Message

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. ESV

God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full. NLT

What differences do you see?

• What do you think “right standing with God” means in the Amplified Bible?

• Have you ever felt completely satisfied?

Like many of the other Beatitudes, when Jesus spoke in Matthew 5:6, He was referring to ancient scripture. Read Isaiah 55:1-2.

Isa 55:1-2

Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. NASU

What is the invitation for the thirsty?

• What is the invitation for those that have no money?

• What is the price for the wine and milk offered by God?

• What is the promise for the righteous?

The word righteousness is in the Bible 309 times. Read Psalms 89:14.

Ps 89:14

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; NASU

What is the foundation of God’s throne?

Read Psalms 106:3.

Ps 106:3

How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times! NASU

How is this similar to the 4th Beatitude?

Read Psalms 119:140-144.

Ps 119:140-144

Your word is very pure, Therefore Your servant loves it. I am small and despised, Yet I do not forget Your precepts. Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth. Trouble and anguish have come upon me, Yet Your commandments are my delight. Your testimonies are righteous forever; Give me understanding that I may live. NASU

How does the Psalm writer feel about God’s word?

• How constant is God’s righteousness?

• Despite the troubles of the world, what can we delight in?

• What is righteous forever?

• What is the Psalm writer’s prayer?

We usually know what the righteous thing to do is but Jesus gives us a warning about our motives. Read Matthew 6:1-4.

Matt 6:1-4

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. NASU

What is the warning?

• What is the consequence of ignoring the warning?

• How are we supposed to practice righteousness?

God’s righteousness is constant. In fact, it is everlasting – constant in this world and the next. Seek righteousness and be blessed.


Years ago, a Christian mentor gave me an assignment. “I want you to do something nice for someone else every day. There’s a trick to this assignment. Keep your acts a secret. Don’t let anyone find out about them. If someone finds out, it doesn’t count.”

I was about to find out just how self-seeking I really was. Mystified, I couldn’t believe how hard his assignment was. I did many “nice” things for my husband but I always let him know about it. For example, I often had to put away his newspaper. I suppose it was a nice thing to do but what I really wanted was for him to put it away. That meant, every time I put the newspaper away, I let him know about it. I found out that I did almost nothing for the sheer joy of doing something for someone else. In fact, if I didn’t get the satisfaction of someone thanking me, I wasn’t sure what satisfaction I would have.

At first, I thought the nice things I did needed to be big. I tried to follow my mentor’s advice but when I did something big, people noticed. I gave showers for people at church, cooked food for the sick, and gave money to a beggar. Suddenly, I was hearing the word “thank you” more than ever but I was also exhausted. I enjoyed the attention but knew this wasn’t the point.

I went back to my mentor and complained. He laughed and said, “Cheryle, keep it simple. Pick up a sock and put it away. Flush a toilet in a public restroom. Pick up litter on the street.”

Why would I do things like that? I wondered. I was deeply ashamed when I realized that if no one found out about it, I had no interest in doing it. I had some spiritual work to do. My mentor helped me do some introspective confessional work and slowly I released my driving need for public affirmation. I began to follow my mentor’s simple advice and was amazed by what I found out. The simple act of secretly doing the right thing gave more satisfaction than the most public “thank you” I’d ever received. I also found out it was a lot less work.

I wish I could say that I’d never again hungered and thirsted for public approval but that isn’t true. What is true is that when I seek the approval of the world, my cravings are never satisfied. When I hunger and thirst after righteousness, I find satisfaction in the simplest things. My mentor taught me a wonderful secret. God’s satisfaction is better than anything the world could give me.

For the rest of the Lenten season, secretly, find something nice to do for someone everyday. Keep your acts simple but be diligent. You’ll be amazed at the results.

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