Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Isaac Watts tweaked the verse to prose of pen:
Blest are the souls that thirst for grace
Hunger and long for righteousness;
They shall be well supplied, and fed
With living streams and living bread.
Even if you love hymns and poetry, Mr. Watts composition doesn’t explain what it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness. I am reminded of a friend who said, “Whatever this is, there is not nearly enough of it around.” Point well taken; where are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness? And would we even know if we were talking to them?
Jesus takes two of our most basic desires, which we understand, and points us toward one of the most advanced concepts imaginable – God’s kind of righteousness - rightness of character before God and man. Jesus is illustrating for us the highest possible goal (God’s righteousness) with the most common possible means (hunger and thirst).
My initial reaction is to think this condition is rare. How many people want God’s kind of righteousness with the same frequency and intensity as they need the next meal? And maybe this is the point? Our desires, in spiritual matters, don’t match up to what we know we need. The famous preacher Spurgeon wrote about our desire:
True godliness lies very much in desires. As we are not what we shall be, so also we are not what we would be. The desires of gracious men after holiness are intense; -- they cause a wear of heart, a straining of the mind, till it feels ready to snap with the heavenly pull. A high value of the Lord's commandment leads to a pressing desire to know and to do it, and this so weighs upon the soul that it is ready to break in pieces under the crush of its own longings. What a blessing it is when all our desires are after the things of God. We may well long for such longings...
I find it no surprise that such desire is labeled “blessed” by Jesus.
Lord, may your desires be my desires.