By Caleb Faires
In his Confessions, St. Augustine declared, “Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they find their rest in Thee.” Despite the profound truth of these words, we are quick to look for satisfaction in other places. We search for it in physical or emotional comforts, in popularity, influence and acclaim, in distraction, and in that old temptation of earthly wealth. We forget the words of the preacher who warns, “he who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income. This also is vanity” (Eccl. 5:10).
Christ’s pronouncement of blessing for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, however, comes with a guarantee of satisfaction.
The metaphor of hunger and thirst is vivid. It is the picture of ardent desire, of a deep hunger born of starvation, and deep thirst in a dry and weary land. We are bid to cry out, as David does, “earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You” (Psalm 63:1).
I struggle to seek after God with such fervency. As I wrestle with this beatitude, I come face to face with two challenges:
First, I often lack a genuine desire for righteousness. My desire for God’s righteousness often flags, especially in seasons of prosperity. But “our desire for spiritual blessings,” says Matthew Henry, “must be earnest.” This entails a deep sorrow for our own sin, a humble recognition of our own lack and need, and a genuine longing for holiness. So then, it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy (Romans 9:16).
Second, I often misconstrue the nature of true righteousness. I tend to think of righteousness in human terms: how should a righteous man act? In Scripture, however, righteousness really belongs only to God (Ezra 9:15; Daniel 9:7-8). Righteousness is perfect justice, perfect uprightness, holiness. In none of these is righteousness derived of man, his actions, accomplishments, merits, or successes. Christ’s call to hunger and thirst for righteousness is not man-focused, because that is not where we find righteousness (Romans 3:10).
Without even trying, of course, we can so quickly revert to thinking chiefly of our own righteousness, and to relying on our own spiritual strength. Thomas Chalmers observed: “There are several vexations of the vain show in which I walk and which would cheat me of my eternity.” How much of our walk is but vain show? Is our vain show of the pursuit of righteousness cheating us of eternity? Or, do we genuinely hunger and thirst after God’s righteousness? Do we find in Him all our fulfillment?
May Christ in His mercy give us a hunger and thirst for His righteousness! Then we will proclaim, “my soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food” and “as for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalms 63:5; 17:15).
Written By Caleb Faires