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Matthew 5:6: Full Bellies and Empty Hearts!

Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Matthew 5:6 MSG, “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.”

“Blessed (happy) are those who are hungering and thirsting for being right with God, for they, and they alone, are the ones who are being filled” (Matthew 5:6, My paraphrase).

Psalm 63:1 MSG, “God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts.”

“I’m hungry!” As a man who loves to eat, I have often been hungry, however my hunger was never life-threatening, I was never in danger of starving to death. In fact, as a child if I would say, “I’m not hungry,” my mom would usually say, “Oh, Oh, I would rather feed a hungry man than one who says, ‘I’m not hungry.’”

The Greek word for “hunger” is peinao, meaning, “needy, to desire earnestly, to have strong desire to attain some goal with the implication that something is lacking.” In classic Greek peinao means to long for something which is necessary for sustenance of life and can range from simple desire for a meal to starvation. Figuratively, it could even refer to an intense desire for something other than food, for something that was deemed necessary for one's well-being.

“Spiritual hunger is a blessed hunger. What is meant by hunger? Hunger is put for desire (Isaiah 26:9). Spiritual hunger is the rational appetite whereby the soul pants after that which it apprehends most suitable and proportional to itself. Whence is this hunger? Hunger is from the sense of lack. He who spiritually hungers, has a real sense of his own indigence. He lacks righteousness.” –Thomas Watson

The word Jesus uses for “hunger” refers to the desperate craving that a starving person has for food. He is so famished that he becomes desperate for anything to eat. This beatitude does not refer to hunger which could be satisfied by a snack, but it indicates the possibility of starving to death.

The Greek word for “thirst:” dipsao, meaning, “a strong desire for a drink, a want and eager desire after any thing.” Psalm 42:1,2, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”

The word “thirst” means to painfully feel the need for water. This is more than just needing a sip, it means to be parched and dehydrated to the point of pain.

Have you ever been really thirsty? I can’t imagine the pain and terror of dying of thirst. Let’s get technical. Let it be understood that people do not die of thirst, they die from dehydration.

“Thirst, as you probably know, is one of the most potent drives for behavior we have. It may be the most potent we have, more than even hunger…” –Jeffrey Berns, National Kidney Foundation

The people in the Middle-East in Jesus day guarded wells with their lives, because the well was a matter of life or death for an entire village. Walls were built around the well before they built the city walls, which were their only protection for enemies.

Bible people experienced thirst:

During their wilderness journey: Exodus 17:3 at Rephidim, “And the people thirsted there for water…”

Because of disobedience: Deuteronomy 27:47,48, “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you.”

During a siege: 2 Chronicles 32:11, “Does not Hezekiah persuade you to give yourselves over to die by famine and by thirst, saying, ‘The Lord our God will deliver us from the hand of the king of Assyria?’”

These passages do not describe an imagined thirst, they were desperate for water. Jesus on the cross, said, “I thirst” (John 19:28). The rich man in hell was so thirsty, that he would like just the amount of water one could get on the tip of their finger…“Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24).

In this Beatitude, “hunger and thirst” are linked with “righteousness.”

“Somebody who hungers and thirsts after righteousness, first of all, seeks salvation. The righteousness that comes when you believe, the righteousness that’s given to you in Christ. He sees his sin. He sees his rebellion. He sees himself separated from a holy God. He is broken. He is mournful. He is meek and he wants so much to restore himself to God. He wants forgiveness and so he hungers and thirsts after the righteousness that comes in salvation. It is a desire to be free from self. It is a desire to be free from sin, its power, its presence, and its penalty. And this is what initiates salvation…But there’s a second element. I think it also implies sanctification. I don’t think once you get saved you stop hungering and thirsting, as I said. Then you hunger and thirst for sanctification, for an increasing holiness. –MacArthur

No one has ever reached complete righteousness in his life but he is to push on and become more righteous or holy in his daily experience.

“It's a desire to be right with God. Whatever happens in my marriage, whatever happens in my job, whatever happens in my career is not the issue. Whatever happens with my kids, whatever happens in the problems of life, the sorrows of life, the bad news that I've received, my illness, whatever it is, that is not the issue. The issue is an eternal issue, it's about my relationship with the eternal God. It's about my sin problem.” –MacArthur

Hunger and thirst are bodily cravings that must be satisfied if life, both physical and spiritual, is to be sustained! Do you believe this? This statement by Jesus is a key to partaking of the fullness of the righteous lifestyle that surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

What is Jesus implying? Does the natural man hunger and thirst for righteousness? No, nor can he without divine help. “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). In the fallen state of mankind, The scripture says, “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God” (Romans 3:10,11). This is the state of the natural man, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). And so Jesus' implies that if you have absolutely no hunger and thirst for God and righteousness, you need to examine the state of your soul.

I submit to you, that if a person has no desire for God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit; no desire to pray and seek God; no desire to fellowship with other believers; if he has no Christian fruit at all, then that person 1s not a believer. I believe in eternal security, once saved always saved, but the person I just described has never really been saved. Oh he may have gone through the motions but he is lost and needs a savior!

Food and water are not luxuries, they are absolute necessities! Our physical life depends on food and water. Our spiritual life depends on righteousness. Food and drink keep up our physical strength. Righteousness keeps up out spiritual strength. “I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit” (Ephesians 3:16 NLT).

Our senses:

The inner man has a sense of sight. “ The eyes of your understanding[a] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…” (Ephesians 1:18). Our Lord lamented that His disciples had eyes but they could not see (Mark 8:18). Remember the counsel for the church at Laodicea, the lukewarm church, “…anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” (Revelation 3:18). Never forget the old English proverb, there are none so blind as those who will not see! “Hear this now, O foolish people, without understanding, who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not” (Jeremiah 5:21).

The inner man has a sense of hearing. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 11:15). Christ’s sheep (all believers) hear His voice, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:27,28). “For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing… (Matthew 13:15). “Go, and say to this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive’” (Isaiah 6:9 ESV). Believers are dull if hearing because they do not exercise their spiritual senses. If a believer goes off into false doctrine, you know he is not listening to the voice of the Savior!

The inner man has a sense of taste. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8). “If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:3). “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart…” (Jeremiah 15:16). “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing” (Psalm 34:10).

Hunger and thirst is defined as a strong inner desire, craving, and yearning. It may very well be the motivating force of your life. Everyone has a life principle, the one drive that controls every effort toward fulfillment in life. What is your life principle? It may be popularity, power, success, position, money, recognition or pleasure. What drives you? What is your strong inner desire?

Listen to the Psalmists:

Psalm 42:2, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…”

Psalm 107:9, “For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”

Psalm 63:1 MSG, “God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God…”

Psalm 143:6: “My Soul thirsts for you like a thirsty land.”

“A devoted follower of Socrates asked him the best way to acquire knowledge. Socrates responded by leading him to a river and plunging him beneath the surface. The man struggled to free himself, but Socrates kept his head submerged. Finally, after much effort, the man was able to break loose and emerge from the water. Socrates then asked, ‘When you thought you were drowning, what one thing did you want most of all?’ Still gasping for breath, the man exclaimed, ‘I wanted air!’ The philosopher wisely commented, ‘When you want knowledge as much as you wanted air, then you will get it!’ The same is true with our desire for righteousness.” –Our Daily Bread

Let’s look at the church today? The church seems to be as thirsty as the world, filled with people who are dying of thirst. “Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain” (Jeremiah 3:3). “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

The church has tried to satisfy its hunger and thirst with:

Activities: Lots of stuff going on, ie: picnics, pot luck’s, ice-cream socials, Sunday School promotions, conferences, and seminars. It seems that if the church provides enough get-together’s and social times she will satisfy the thirst that has overcome the church.

Legalism: “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle…” (Colossians 2:20,21). Some churches have reduced their spirituality to a list of negatives.

What are you hungering and thirsting for? In Acts 3, Peter and John encountered a man at the Temple gate, “So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them” (Verse 5). Their response to him was, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you” (Verse 6).

The world should expect to receive something from the church. What do we have to give a thirsty world? God’s righteousness!

Isaiah 44:3, “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring…”

John 4:13,14 NLT, “Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.’”

John 6:35, “And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

John 7:37,38 MSG, “On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way…’”

“Dear Christian, the Lord plants within our soul a deep longing which He and He alone can satisfy. The giving of satisfaction is God’s work…Our part is to seek. His part is to satisfy. We will never discover anything in this world more satisfying than the Lord, Who will meet all our needs. And yet there is a marvelous paradox for the person who genuinely hungers and thirsts for God’s righteousness finds it so satisfying that he wants more and more.” –Marvin Vincent

So let me ask again…How thirsty are you? Do you have an insatiable desire, a desperation for a touch of God on your life? Philippians 3:10, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection…” God’s power is available to every believer, He is El Shaddai! God Almighty! “El” refers to the power of God, “Shaddai” seems to be derived from another word meaning breast, which implies that Shaddai signifies one who nourishes, supplies, and satisfies. It is God as El who helps, but it is God as Shaddai who abundantly blesses with all manner of blessings. He is the enough God! What do you need? El Shaddai is enough! What does the world need? El Shaddai is enough! What does the church need? El Shaddai is enough!

What do you need?

•Hungry? He is “The bread of life” (John 6:35).

•Thirsty? He is “The Living Water” (John 7:38).

•Comfort? He is the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

•Wisdom? “He gives to all men liberally…” (James 1:5,6).

•Healing? He is “The Lord your healer” (Exodus 15:26). He can heal a broken body, and a broken spirit, a broken heart, and also broken churches, and a broken nation.

“The One who said He is the Bread of Life

Has also said He'll satisfy your thirst;

So why should you be searching everywhere

When Jesus said that you should seek Him first?” –Hess

Only Christ the Bread of Life 
can satisfy our spiritual hunger.” –Our Daily Bread

So I ask again, How thirsty are you? “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.” (Hosea 10:12 NLT).

Jesus I am thirsty

Won't You come and fill me

Earthly things have left me dry

Only You can satisfy

All I want is more of You

–Don Harris & Martin Nystrom–

Are you hungering and thirsting for Christ Alone and His righteousness? Then be assured that you will be satisfied in this life and the one to soon come! If your spiritual appetite has diminished since those early days of your “first love” (Revelation 2:4,5) when you first met Jesus, perhaps you might be led to pray Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; 
Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 
And see if there be any hurtful way in me, 
And lead me in the everlasting way.” –Precept Austin

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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