Last night, our Bible study group read the Beatitudes, and got stuck on the one that says, \”Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.\” I asked the question, \”What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? What does it look like?\”
We struggled to establish a definition for righteousness. Some associated it with being \”self-righteous,\” which I related to the Pharisees- those who put on the external appearance of having religion through the law, but in doing so, failed to rely on the power of God\’s grace. Here\’s what the dictionary says that righteous means-characterized by, proceeding from, or in accordance with accepted standards of morality, justice, or uprightness. In other words, doing what is right and good. That\’s a good thing to hunger and thirst for, don\’t you think?
The Bible has a LOT to say about righteousness, and I tend to think the Biblical description shifts some of the perspective from doing what society accepts as good and right to doing what GOD says is good and right. Synonyms for righteousness that are found in Biblical reference are holiness, Godliness, and integrity.
Here are some scriptures to consider:
- Job 29:14 \”I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban.\”
- Psalm 33:5 \”The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.\”
- Isaiah 33:5 \”The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.\”
- Isaiah 51:8 \”For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations.”
- Ezekiel 18:26 \”If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die.\”
- Amos 5:24 \”But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness
- Romans 3:22 \”This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.\”
- 2 Timothy 3:16 \”All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.\”
- 2 Timothy 4:8 \”Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.\”
So…what does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? I think it means to crave God. It means to seek after Him and follow His ways, to yearn to be closer to Him. What does this look like in someone\’s life? I think it means that a person seeks total transformation. They seek repentence in Jesus, turn from their sinful ways, and earnestly live in relationship with Him. It isn\’t something that we can accomplish of our own will or in our own strength. That is self-righteousness. True Biblical righteousness comes from Jesus.
I think Phillipians 1: 9-11 sums it up nicely.\”And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.\” The bold and italics are mine, but the words are from Paul, a righteous man if ever there was one.