Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied’ (Mat. 5:6). ‘Righteousness’ can seem a grand and daunting word at first, but the dictionary simply defines it as ‘the quality of being morally right.’ In the Bible, this specifically means being right in God’s opinion and living according to his perfect standards. The Bible teaches that God considers none of us to be good; we ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Rom. 3:23).
However, the amazing truth is that if we have trusted in Christ as our saviour, God now sees us as having the righteousness of Christ, even though we still do wrong. Why? Because the Lord Jesus, having lived a completely righteous life, took upon himself all our unrighteousness when he died on the cross, and gives us his righteousness in its place (see 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Romans 5:19).
So, what now? The fact we won’t be able to live perfectly should never be an excuse for not trying to do what’s right. Knowing what God has done for us in Christ should make us want to live like Christ in all respects; what we say, how we spend our time, and how we treat others.
Another aspect of Biblical righteousness is being close to God. David in the Old Testament compared his longing for God to the thirst one would have while on a long journey through the desert. He says to God: ‘my soul thirsts for you…as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.’ (Ps. 63:1-2). The ‘sanctuary’ refers to the tabernacle where God’s people would come to worship him. Today’s equivalent of this for us is the weekly meetings of the church. Do we have a thirst for the joy of being among our fellow Christians and worshipping God together?
Knowing what God has done for us in Christ should make us want to live like Christ in all respects; what we say, how we spend our time, and how we treat others.
David also describes later in this psalm that his hunger for God will be satisfied: ‘My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food’ (Ps. 63:5). This verse was illustrated to me once when I was eating a sandwich I had made while my friend tucked into a large chicken burger. I had had this burger before, and was left really dissatisfied after finishing my comparatively thin slices of chicken in brown bread. Surely this should be the case in Christian life: having ‘tasted that the Lord is good’ (1 Peter 2:3), we find that it is only his things that truly satisfy us.
Stepping up to righteousness won’t always be easy; it may involve stepping away from what people around us are doing. Nor is it a one-off step, but rather a continuous way of life. But let’s strive after righteousness anyway, because we’re promised that it won’t fail to satisfy.
Ross Osborne, The Church of God in Glasgow