“The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.. . . . The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” — Proverbs 10:7, 11 (ESV)
With each beatitude that makes up the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus continues to prove that He is concerned with the position of our hearts. The fourth beatitude, says, “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.”
If we want to understand the Fourth Beatitude, we need to know what Jesus means by the term righteousness. Jesus didn’t say, “Blessed are those whose goal is righteousness, for they shall attain their goal.” Nor did He say, “Blessed are those who have a desire for righteousness, for they will have their heart’s desire.” Rather, He spoke in everyday terms regarding intense hunger. We are not simply to seek righteousness or have righteousness as a goal; we are to hunger and thirst after righteousness. He pronounced a blessing on the ones who are hungry for it. Blessed are those whose thirst for righteousness is a consuming passion.
Sometimes athletes that have signed huge contracts lose some of their passion and are content to rest on their laurels. When pundits see this happening they usually comment by saying, “they’re not hungry like they were before they were established.” As always Jesus is the example in which to follow. The New Testament talks a great deal about how the zeal for His Father’s house consumed Him: “Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” (John 2:17). This language means that Jesus’ passion for the affairs of His heavenly Father consumed Him.
Jesus promises in this beatitude that if we strive for righteousness, we will be filled and satisfied. This is the distinguishing factor between Christianity and so many other religions. Jesus wants to know us, and He wants us to draw near to Him and seek His presence. Jesus tells us that if we truly desire a right relationship with Him, then that is exactly what we will have.
In the final analysis, we want the approval of God—but the applause of men can be deafening, and it can cause us to turn our attention toward achieving everything else apart from what Christ set as the priority for His people: to be righteous. Being righteous is not all that complicated; it means having a passion to do what is right.
- How would you define righteousness?
- What are some advantages of righteousness?