Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

Desperate thirst

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

I have never known true physical hunger, but I am well aware that millions of children go to bed every night desperately hungry. My life has never been threatened by thirst, but I can well imagine that thirst becomes the overriding priority of a man crossing a desert.

  • What is this righteousness, that we should so desperately want to know it in our own lives?
  • What are the results of righteousness in our lives?
  • How can our desperate need be satisfied?

Becoming righteous is a process

Jesus didn’t say “Blessed are the righteous …”. He said that we must hunger and thirst for it.

  • We are to be hungry for righteousness.
  • We are to be thirsty for righteousness.
  • We are to seek righteousness above everything else. (Matthew 6:33).

Being righteous involves our actions

Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:1-4 NIV)

Giving to the needy is an act of righteousness, but it important that our motive is to be God-like and not do it so that people will think how great we are. Our righteousness is before God, but involves our fellow-man as well.

Righteousness describes the nature of God

Righteousness describes how God acts in his relationship with men. Included are the attributes of:

  • Justice
  • Truth
  • Mercy
  • Love

Hungering for the attributes of God

So in hungering and thirsting for God’s righteousness we are seeking to have those qualities in our lives in our relationship with God, and our fellow-man.

  • To seek justice in a world which is so often unjust. (Justice is almost synonymous with righteousness in the Old Testament.)
  • To deal in truth with others. Without truthfulness, relationships fail.
  • To be merciful in our treatment of, and attitudes towards, other people. To be non judgemental, forgiving and generous towards men and women.
  • To love God and our neighbour as we care for ourselves. To show compassion. To lay down our lives for others as God (Jesus) laid down His life for us.

Righteousness comes through faith

But by faith we eagerly await through the spirit the righteousness for which we hope.
(Galatians 5:5 NIV)

If we desire to be more like God (or Jesus) and want His attributes to be active in our lives, we need help.

Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
(Galatians 3:21 NIV)

We cannot know righteousness in our lives by following the law, or rules, or simply by our own efforts. But through faith in Jesus Christ, comes hope and the possibility of not only hungering and thirsting for righteousness, but of those deep desires being satisfied.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again but whoever drinks the water that I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become a spring of water, welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:13-14 NIV)

Author: George Dowdell

I was the founder of Karuna Action (formerly Kingscare) and was the director for 24 years. I have now handed control over to younger people but continue as an advisor and trustee. My passion is to see extreme poverty eliminated and to see justice for the powerless.

7 thoughts on “Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness”

  1. The fuller meaning of your quote of Jn. 4:13-14 (about living water) is found in Jn. 7:37-39, where Jesus tells those who thirst to come to him and drink. For out of his heart will flow rivers of living water; now this he said about the Spirit. As Paul says in Rom. 5:5, because Jesus fills us with his Spirit, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” This new life lived in the grace of the empowering Spirit is filled with the righteousness that is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).


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