“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).               

The first four Beatitudes are a logical progression. Starting with “”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3) each blessing builds upon the previous ones. We must first acknowledge our spiritual bankruptcy before a holy God. This confession causes us to mourn over both our sins and our sinfulness (Matthew 5:4). This creates in us the humble state of meekness that the Kingdom of Heaven requires (Matthew 5:5). So we see that our conviction leads to confession which leads to repentance (a change of heart and mind) that culminates in the pursuit of a Godly life (Matthew 5:6). Therefore, all of these postures, when progressively combined, compel us to seek after that which we do not have – righteousness!  And isn’t it glorious to know that if we come to Him hungry and thirsty for His righteousness He promises to satisfy our cravings and bless us! 

All of humanity is seeking after happiness. Sadly, contentment is often sought through pleasure, possessions, relationships, work, and a pain-free and comfortable life (among many other things) but real satisfaction and contentment remains elusive. Why?  Because many search for happiness in the temporal and the tangible as opposed to the spiritual and the eternal. The fatal flaw here is the idea that we can have happiness without holiness. Jesus says that true contentment comes from holiness or the pursuit of righteousness. He underscores this later in His grand discourse when he says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). 

So what is the fundament prescription for happiness? I believe it looks like this: there is no true happiness apart from holiness and no holiness apart from Christ. Therefore, pursuing a righteousness-giving Jesus empowers us to live the holy lives that reflect the joy that we find in Him. In Christ we find the consummation of both our holiness and our happiness. That is why Paul can say that “in Christ” we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3).  

So we see that a fundamental ambition of God’s Kingdom people is a hunger and thirst for righteousness because we seek after the spiritual and not the material. The pagan world pursues things of this world as a means to be satisfied (‘filled”) but we find satisfaction in the righteousness that only comes through Christ. His chosen realize Him to be the only source of righteousness and the only means to satisfy our hungry and thirst souls. Jesus said of Himself, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). That is why we so desperately (as if famished) desire Him and His righteousness. 

However, we must understand that the type of righteousness spoken of in this Beatitude goes beyond just having a right relationship with God (the justification of our sins) through faith in the atoning work of Jesus. It speaks to the pursuit of a personal and practical righteousness that projects both the King (Jesus) and His Kingdom. This means that the “Blessed” mentioned here are rabidly pursuing a life that reflects Christ in their own holy living and in the way they demonstrate their faith to the world around them. Their poverty of spirit, brokenness and humility are essential not just for the forgiveness of sin but also the living out of a life worthy of our calling. 

The point is this: due to the justification of sins – our positional righteousness before God through faith in the atoning work of Christ – we find that a desire to be free from sin is cultivated in our lives. Why? Because sin separates us from God and we, because we so love Him sand are so grateful for what He has done for us, want no part of that which would hinder our relationship with Him or our ability to demonstrate His love within our sphere of influence (which is the lost and dying world around us). This Beatitude points us to our passion for demonstrating Jesus’ righteousness by reflecting His beauty through holy living. That is why the writer of Hebrews said, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).