From the deep inner consciousness that one is spiritually bankrupt before God and void of righteousness; the agony of the awareness of one who is vile and sinful in the presence of a holy God; and the humble, pliable attitude that receives from God the offered help for his/her lost condition, from these grow the passionate, insatiable craving for God’s righteousness.
The Lord uses two physical drives to illustrate the desperation of the blessed person’s desire for righteousness. Being primary needs, the desire for sustaining food and water carries with it a passionate driving pursuit which cannot be denied. The starving person will go to any lengths to satisfy his inner craving! As a matter of fact, the Lord selected very expressive Greek words to point out the passion involved:
The word He used for hunger is peino that means to be suffer deep, abiding hunger and the word for thirst dipsao carries the idea of raging thirst, one that simply must be quenched.
These all inclusive verbs mean we desire all the righteousness there is in order to be satisfied. It means both personal righteousness and in a broader sense social justice. Those who hunger and thirst in this way want their own righteousness complete, but they also want the redeeming righteousness God gives to be available to everyone.
Righteousness is defined as God’s absolute standards for all our personal and corporate behavior. He is the determiner of what is truly righteous.
The Lord preached a remarkable truth on the mount that day. He said the citizen of heaven has a craving for the fulfillment of God’s absolute standards of holiness in himself and society!
The second half, or reason for the blessedness of those that hunger and thirst after righteousness is:
“…for they shall be filled.”
First of all, the verb is in future tense. It means that the reward for this particular pursuit will be something the follower of Christ will experience completely in the eternal kingdom. In other words, until we are with the Lord we will not be fully satisfied. This expands our understanding of the paradoxical nature of this Beatitude.
The Christian is one who at one and the same time is hungering and thirsting, and yet is filled. Life on this earth is imperfect, yet in it we long to be righteous and pursue a relationship with God to bring us into that state. We long for a true, unbroken closeness to our Creator. This is our hunger and thirst.
And the more we are filled, the hungrier and thirstier we become. That is the blessedness of the Christian life. It’s pursuit is continuous, and our longing moves on into eternity. We pursue eternal values.
Excerpts from Learning to Live with Eternity’s Values in View Curriculum