August 26, 2010
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Matthew 5:6, ESV
My father has a sardonic wit. Growing up, when one of my brothers or I would point out that our supply of chips, cereal, and milk had run dangerously low—at least from our perspective—he always had a similar answer: "Why should I buy food? You'll just eat it." To this day, I'm not completely convinced he was joking.
This happened all the more because of the size of our family—four boys who were perpetually hungry, the various friends who always stayed around and enjoyed the free foodstuffs, and my parents. We chowed through low-fat ice cream, churned through Malt-o-Meal bags with ferocity, and downed pretzels with abandon. Growing boys need to eat, after all.
I couldn't count just how many loaves of bread we went through during my youth, but if you stacked them end to end, I'm sure you could come up with one of those impressive charts showing how many times the chain would wrap around the earth. My parents did their best to keep the cupboards stocked by piling grocery carts full. However, they faced one insurmountable problem, the same problem my father hit upon with his ornery comment: No matter how much we ate, we still needed more.
Hunger and thirst have this bad habit of coming back. No quarter-pound hamburger or bucket-sized glass of tea can cure this vicious cycle. Eat, get hungry; eat, get hungry.
The Samaritan woman Jesus spoke with at the well knew all about this condition. Every day she trekked to a hole in the ground, yanked up water, and sloshed her way home. The next day, she had to repeat the process. No matter what, she'd never be satisfied, never make enough trips to the well. In essence, that's what Jesus pointed out to her—the same thing He pointed out during the Sermon on the Mount.
While T-bone steaks fill our bellies for a moment, they only momentarily satisfy. The cost of the meal, the effort involved, the garnish, none of that prevents hunger from returning—sometimes worse than before. And we're left rummaging through the pantry at midnight, trying to find the last of the peanut butter or any leftover Goldfish crackers.
In one way, however, there is something profound to what my dad always said. As Jesus pointed out to the well woman, we go through actions every day to fulfill basic life requirements. We want to live, so we drink and eat. But the results are transient, momentary. The irony is that fulfilling those basic life needs often drowns out the deeper need we all have.
The people who realize their true hunger, the insatiable thirst for God, understand that stuffing faces, stuffing wallets, and stuffing days full of activities don't slake the thirst of the spirit. They want righteousness—a tasty goodness that doesn't come from waffle fries or chocolate shakes.
Intersecting Faith & Life: The greatest part of realizing our need for righteousness is Christ's promise that we will be filled. We don't always eat or drink when we want, but when we ask Christ to make us right with God, He does. No trips to the supermarket or trips to the well—we're simply filled.
So, why should you hunger after righteousness? Because it's exactly what you'll get.