Hunger and thirst are normal human motivators–built into us to keep us alive. We simply respond to the God-wired stimuli and find food and drink to satisfy our physical needs. But Jesus is speaking here of a deeper kind of hungering and thirsting that must be recognized and even cultivated for the health and flourishing of our spiritual selves. Let’s dig a bit and see what He might mean.
According to Jesus, when we hunger and thirst for what He calls “righteousness,” we receive blessing. One Bible translation for righteousness calls it “a desire for what God wants.” The idea then is that for the best life possible, Jesus urges His followers to cultivate a vital interest in and a longing for “what God wants.” Are you wondering “what God wants”? Read on. The Sermon on the Mount explains that God wants HIS perfect moral purity and goodness to be expressed in and through us–for His good, for our good, and for the good of all creation.
Before I put my sins on Jesus, I was profane, immoral, and extremely selfish, totally preoccupied with making myself happy and trying to make my will be done with only my good in mind. When Christ replaced me at the helm of my life, I headed in an entirely new direction — toward wanting God’s will to be done and not mine. God was at work in my heart and mind, changing my core desires.
So how do we cultivate a desire for what God wants? The desire is deepened and purified by spending time with Him. We read and study His Word. We talk to Him about how He wants to apply His truth to our wayward impulses. Like children, we learn to accept His correction, and we are shaped by it. We spend time with His people, celebrating His goodness, offering encouragement, and receiving encouragement. We work to exercise the gifts He has given us for the benefit of others in every context of our lives. We practice hospitality and do good to all, especially to fellow believers. We forgive those who have wronged us.
Wonderfully enough, the more time we spend with Him, the more we want to reflect the beauty of His character. We want to be fully-engaged participants in His Story, in His work, and in His church. We find that our hunger and thirst “for what God wants” brings blessing and happiness, just as He promised.
Written by Rick Hurst