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May 19, 2019

Life in the Kingdom: Those who Hunger for Righteousness

Life in the Kingdom: Those who Hunger for Righteousness

Passage: Matthew 5:6

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: Life in the Kingdom

Keywords: righteousness, beatitudes, hunger and thirst

Righteousness is not about following rules. It's all about loving God and loving people.

Scripture: 

Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. - John 6:36 NRSV 

Devotional:

This Sunday, we explored together the beatitude from the Gospel of Matthew that states, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." (Matthew 5:6) At first glance in reading this beatitude I am intrigued by the use of the words hunger and thirst; particularly being that hunger and thirst can be real needs for some people. Furthermore, I used to believe that hunger and thirst paired together with the term righteousness meant I had to "do something" in order to achieve righteousness. So, here are a few things I have uncovered in my search to understand more fully this blessing for all people.
 
The terms hunger and thirst are of course, metaphors used to express the deepest meaning of the text. We are aware around the world that poverty does exist. And in the time of Jesus' walking the earth and teaching, water and food were scarce. This causes me to think that Jesus taught with these terms so that we would fully understand this teaching. We all know hunger and we all know thirst. Hunger and thirst are "needs" that must be met in order to thrive. Humanity needs God in order to satisfy basic spiritual needs. And when we are hungering and thirsting for God or we have a 'desire to know God more' we are able to see our relationship with God growing in maturity.
 
I have come to understand that this Scripture reading is NOT achievement based. I am not trying to earn righteousness as if I may fail at earning it. If we are not careful with the phrase "hunger and thirst for righteousness" we can make it out to reflect a 'works-based' faith. This kind of faith means I am keeping a scorecard of all the great works I have done and in the end, 'what if' I am not good enough? What if someone else is more righteous than I? To explain this a little further, I think about coming to the communion table in worship. Every Sunday our youth praise band rehearses after the 11am Worship service. And on communion Sundays, they do not come up to the stage for practice until they have literally devoured the communion bread! This is what hunger and thirst means; one taste of that bread on communion Sunday makes us want more. And when we dip that bread into the cup, our souls are filled. Ultimately I leave that table with a greater desire to be right with God and to live into the work that God calls me to do. And the more I come to that table, the greater my hunger and thirst is for righteousness.
 
To sum this up a bit, just take one taste of bread and it will cause you to want more. Go with it, and God will do the rest!
 
Prayer:
Holy God, thank You for all the ways You draw close to me, even when I may not be aware of Your presence. May my hunger and thirst for righteousness ultimately lead to an awareness of others who have a hunger and thirst to know You more so that Your kingdom work here on earth may be fulfilled through me. Amen.
 
 
Written by Tianna Durbin. Tianna is the Minister of Worship and Arts at Arcola Church. She enjoys keeping up with worship and arts while also keeping her commitment to continue regularly studying the Word of God. Outside her work at Arcola she and her husband Chris stay busy keeping up with their two teenagers, Kayla and Jake.