As a part of my memorization for this year I chose some of the words of Jesus starting with the Beatitudes. They are at the beginning of His longest recorded teaching, the Sermon on the Mount. I love the poetry of the words. He often used repetition to get His point across; He knew we need to hear things over and over.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who came before you.” Matthew 5:3-12
I practice my memorization while I am driving to and from work every day. It keeps my mind busy and sharp, plus helps with road rage, lol! While my truck was in the shop last week I had to borrow my Dad’s to run an errand. I was getting ready to run through the Beatitudes when I saw a little slip of paper stuck to his visor. It has the key word of each phrase followed by an equal sign and the result, like this…mourn = comforted. Super cool!! I thought it was a great way to remember the Beatitudes and keep them on the forefront of our minds. However, I noticed that only hunger was listed, not hunger and thirst. That kind of stuck in my brain and for the last day or so I have been processing why Jesus used both in His statement.
There are some differences between hunger and thirst that came to mind. Hunger is strong, loud and not easily ignored. There are generally distinct times to satiate true hunger. Thirst is more subtle and can feel like the need for something else. Often by the time we finally realize that we are thirsty we are long past dehydrated. So how do these differences play out in our relationship to righteousness? The Amplified Bible says that in this context righteousness is “uprightness and right standing with God”.
For me, hungering for righteousness is what I do when I am desperate for God’s influence on a specific area of my life. I know I have weakness there and so I am actively searching for wisdom, correction, direction, and support in that area. Its influence is loud in my life, it affects my decisions and I can’t ignore it easily. I choose Bible studies relating to the area and I set aside specific times to study about it. I know that in order to ensure uprightness in this area of my life I must intentionally seek it before God. I also see hunger for righteousness in the weekly things we generally do as Christians, like attending services, a small group, or a ladies Bible study and its homework. Its the distinct times we seek Him out in large doses.
Thirsting for righteousness is more subtle. Thirst requires a more streamlined and constant influence. This is the daily, hourly, minute by minute need for a right standing with God and hearing from Him. It is daily reading the Word just to hear His voice and also the quick sips of scripture throughout the day like my Bible promises calendar, or following Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet’s Adoration and She Reads Truth on Instagram. It is staying in constant contact with God not just when something big happens or I am in crisis or its Sunday and church is just something we do. Thirst can be misunderstood at times and seem to be a need for something totally unrelated. Feeling tired, run down and ready to hit snooze again may actually be a need to get up and spend time with God. General dissatisfaction with life or feeling blue may be a signal from God to turn our eyes back on Him instead of everything else. Just like drinking a glass of water can at times eliminate cravings in our bodies, so spending time with God can remove the desire for things that are not good for us and will only leave us craving something more we can’t put our finger on.
If I am only focused on the “hunger”, loud and intense, I could think everything is just fine between God and I because I attended church on Sunday even though we haven’t spoken since. Or I may only pay attention to my right standing with God as it concerns that one big thing I am struggling with. If I do not take time every day to be thirsty for His presence I may not realize that another area of my life is in trouble until it is dry and brittle. I may face my anger but end up a gossip. I may deal with my bitterness but end up seeking approval from the wrong people. I need both hunger and thirst to have the best relationship with God and therefore a right standing before Him.
My prayer is that I will hunger AND thirst for righteousness so that God will fill me to overflowing with Himself. Will you join me in that prayer for yourself?
I made a little reminder for my truck! 🙂
~ Keri Lee