Larry Sheehy021912Listen to Larry Sheehy's column about the true meaning of 'hunger.'
Hunger is (and almost always has been, I suppose) a world-wide problem. Even in the most prosperous cultures, people go to bed hungry every night.
Every living thing, from the smallest one-cell creatures to the largest giant sequoia or sperm whale, requires food to survive. Furthermore, everything must have moisture to live. Food and water are indispensable to life. Recognizing that this is true in the spiritual realm, Jesus said in this fourth “beatitude,” “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
Starving people are often desperate. The people of 9th century B.C. Samaria became so desperately hungry during a siege by Syria, they were willing to eat their own children. A more recent example is that of the legendary Donner party, stranded in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1846. Jesus’ saying assumes that people who recognize their need for food and water will normally do everything possible to get it.
The hunger and thirst Jesus has in mind, rather than physical, is spiritual in nature. The “righteousness” spoken of involves integrity, virtue, purity of life and proper thinking, feeling and acting, according to one language authority. The apostle Paul encouraged the Christians of Rome to offer their bodies as tools useful in righteous activities. He told Timothy to “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness” (2 Timothy 2:22). And he describes Scripture as “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness....” (2 Timothy 3:16)
Practically speaking, seeking righteousness is seeking to be “right with God.” This is the translation in several versions, such as the “Easy-to-Read,” of 2 Corinthians 5:21 — “Christ had no sin, but God made him become sin so that in Christ we could be right with God.”
The blessing Jesus pronounced upon those who hunger and thirst for righteousness is satisfaction. Fulfillment and contentment await everyone who seeks to be like God in holy thinking and living. In seeking to know and do God’s will, they will not be disappointed. “Let [men] thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” (Psalm 107:8-9). Jesus plead with us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
David wrote, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)
You’ve likely heard it said that “we are what we eat.” Well, we will eventually become what we desire the most. Someone said, “Every man drinks as deeply from salvation’s well as will satisfy his thirst.” And Jesus told the woman at the well in Samaria, “...whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)