Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Beatitudes, Part 32 of 50

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

IDEA: Righteousness from God also must include righteousness with people.

PURPOSE: To help listeners realize that righteous relations with God also involve  right relationships with people.

What is the fourth beatitude?

What is the “righteousness” that kingdom people hunger and thirst for?

I. How do you respond to the declaration by the noted English pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones about the importance of this beatitude?

Lloyd-Jones wrote: “I do not know of a better test that anyone can apply to himself or herself in this whole matter of the Christian profession than a verse like this. If this verse is to you one of the most blessed statements of the whole of Scripture, you can be quite certain you are a Christian. If it is not, then you had better examine the foundation again.”

We have observed that righteousness has to do with a right relationship. The “blessed” are those who hunger and thirst for a relation to God. God grants to those who cast themselves on God and His promises.

Our hearts should echo the prayer of an old Scottish saint, “O, God, make me just as holy as a pardoned sinner can be!”

II. Do you think this hunger and thirst for righteousness is only about our relationship with God?

Is it possible to have a right relation with God and wrong relations with others?

Can you think of times when you “hungered and thirsted” for a right relationship with others?

We have to stop making excuses for ourselves and admit we were wrong.

The Puritans pointed out, “the person who feels not his need to be righteous is the person who needs it most desperately.”

III. Would you agree that it is the evidence of spiritual life to hunger and thirst for a right relationship with others?

Hunger is a sign of life.

In certain areas of China, when they bury a person, they put some food, usually bread, and some water in the casket. The corpse never says, “Thank you.” If we should dig up the corpse a few days after the burial, the bread and water would still be there. Corpses never eat bread or drink water unless they do it at the same time they smell the flowers. A corpse doesn't hunger or thirst or smell anything.

If we see ourselves as spiritual paupers and realize how far we have to go, we have begun to hunger and thirst.

Is this done all at once, forever?

We have all pulled away from a Thanksgiving feast thinking that we couldn't possible eat another bite.  But a few hours later we're back in the kitchen again. We must have a constant appetite for a right relationship to God and to others. With the constant desire there is a constant filling.