“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” ~Matthew 5:6
I hate dieting.
Like anyone, I like the results of dieting. I like fitting into my skinny jeans. I like avoiding glimpses of my chin through my peripheral vision. I like a figure taut and tone and trim.
I struggle with dieting because my likes are most usually overtaken by my wants. I want chocolate. I want wine. I want French and Italian foods. I want things that push me away from the results I like.
If you’ve ever dieted, you know how you hunger and thirst for things you want. They consume your thoughts. The ticking of the clock are just metrics for how much longer you must go without the thing you desire. Your wants become aches. All-consuming aches and groans and pleas.
I have discovered the same to be true of my life as a disciple. I like the idea of the things I learn about life in God’s kingdom. Love. Joy. Peace. Hope. Faith. Wisdom. Humility. Selflessness. Righteousness. I would like a life filled to overflowing with these.
But in truth, my wants are at war with the working out of these virtues. I want stuff. I want success. I want someone to tell me I did a good job. I want to hold a grudge. I want to pass judgment. I want to make the uncharitable, yet comical remark. I want days where I can indulge a bad attitude; justify yelling at my husband and kids. Over and over again I find my wants pushing away the life I’d like.
I like the idea of righteousness, but I’m not hungry for it yet. I don’t ache, in an I-must-satisfy-it-now kind of way. I don’t want it so much that I will do anything to have it, including giving up my wants. Like curbing my hunger with nutrient-low snacks, I confess I find ways to keep the demands of righteousness from creating too much of an ache.
It’s appropriate that Jesus introduced the idea of kingdom-shaped desires after He establishes the position, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” the perspective, “Blessed are those who mourn,” and the posture “Blessed are the gentle,” of a kingdom person. If you listen carefully, it’s as if you’ll hear Him saying, “Once you correctly understand who you are, you must make different choices about what you want.” Kingdom living requires we get our priorities straight.
I don’t know about you, but I know more often than not I have a serious Jonah complex. You remember the prophet of old, called to warn the Ninevites of the consequences of their unrighteousness. Although the fish changed Jonah’s disobedient behavior, it didn’t change his priorities. We find him at the end of the story as we did at the beginning—camped out in the comforts of his want to see the Ninevites destroyed. He didn’t ache for his own righteousness…or others.
I want to relieve the discomfort of this Beatitude’s demand by quickly asserting, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Rightly so! We stand before God wearing the righteousness of Christ. But might I add that for many of us, it just doesn’t fit quite right. There is an unsightly muffin top of unrighteous character hanging out, visible to all that we are not hungering and thirsting rightly. We have overeaten at the table unacquainted with our Lord’s bread of brokenness and cup of suffering.
What will you hunger and thirst for today? Really, what will your thoughts loop back around time and time again? What will be the source of your ache? Will it satisfy?