Craving Righteousness (Matthew 5:6; Isaiah 11:4-5)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).

“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
 And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,
 The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
 The spirit of counsel and strength,
 The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And He will delight in the fear of the LORD,
 And He will not judge by what His eyes see,
 Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;
But with righteousness He will judge the poor,
 And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;
 And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
 And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins,
 And faithfulness the belt about His waist” (Isaiah 11:1-5).

Matthew 5:6. Photo by Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

People crave righteousness or justice. Most of us seem to understand “justice” and “right vs. wrong.” We expect people to live by such ideals, especially if it benefits us. Societies have laws or commonly accepted values which assume that certain behaviors and attitudes are right or wrong. C. S. Lewis begins his presentation of the Gospel in Mere Christianity by discussing this law of human nature: Although different groups may disagree about specific expressions of morality and fairness, they all believe that there are universal moral truths that should apply to all people:

These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in (C. S. Lewis, “The Law of Human Nature,” Mere Christianity, chapter 1).

C. S. Lewis. Photo by Aronsyne, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

(Many modern progressives claim that there are no absolute moral truths. However, they usually demand that we pursue inclusion, tolerance, and equity. They elevate these as the highest moral values, without explaining why these values should be accepted instead of those presented in the Bible.)

“Mimi and Eunice” by Nina Paley, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jesus aggressively and assertively pursues righteousness and justice. Isaiah 11:4-5 prophesied that the Messiah would judge the poor with righteousness and decide with fairness for the afflicted. Righteousness would be the belt around His waist. The apostle Paul would later echo this passage, urging Jesus’ followers to bear the breastplate of righteousness and the belt of truth (see Ephesians 6:14).

Righteousness is not just a good idea or noble ideal. It is an essential attribute of Jesus as the Son of God. He wants us to hunger and thirst after righteousness because He wants us to crave intimacy with Him. You cannot pursue Jesus without pursuing righteousness. You cannot say you love Jesus if you do not hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Lord Jesus, You call us to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and You promise to satisfy those who seek it. Inspire in me a craving for Your will, holiness, justice, and righteousness. Inspire me to crave it more than anything this world offers. Then, fill me, Lord. I pray this in Your name. Amen.

What does it mean to you to hunger and thirst after righteousness? How do you fulfill this desire? Share your thoughts and comments in the box below this article.

Copyright © 2022 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

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