What’s Your Attitude Toward Righteousness?

 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled. [Matthew 5:6]

For the past three weeks we’ve been focused on setting things aside and turning away from our possessions, things that bring us pleasure and our desire for power.  At this point in Jesus’ parody of Psalm 1 He subtly begins to turn our attention from the negative things we need to release to the positive things we should desire and work toward. 

Jesus knows what it’s like to be tempted with possessions, pleasure and power.  Before he started his public ministry he spent forty days alone in the desert and was tempted by the devil with all of these things.  In Matthew chapter 4 and again in Luke chapter 4, we see the story.  Jesus is tempted with food, comfort (pleasure) and power but he rejects them all, choosing instead to trust God to provide for his needs.

The way of possessing things, the way of pleasure seeking and the way of power and control leads to anxiety.  This is not God’s way and it is not the kind of life that God desires for his people.  When we look back at the first 3 beatitudes we are reminded that the release of these things leads to peace and satisfaction with the way things are, not the way we desire them to be.  Only in striving for righteousness, truly understanding and accepting God’s will can we be filled. 

And what is God’s will?  That’s a pretty loaded question but there are a few places in scripture where the over arching will of God can be distilled to just a few simple phrases and commands.  When you look at the whole story of Israel and the message of Jesus one theme literally jumps off the page.  God is Love, (1 John 4:18), but more practically, God desires his people to love Him and to love one another.

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40]

And how do we do that?  Loving God seems simple enough but loving or neighbor that gets dicey.  The Prophet Micah gives us the best example of how to go about demonstrating that kind of love.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God. [Micah 6:8]

 Later in this same sermon Jesus brings this point home when he talks about worry. 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. [Matthew 6:33]

The world is messed up.  God’s will isn’t always done here on earth.  One need only to turn on the news to see that.  As we will see in the next few weeks as we hunger and thirst for righteousness Jesus will continue to turn our focus to the things that God desires both for us and for the world through us.   For know it’s enough to know that we will be filled. 

 Blessed are those who long for God’s will to be done, for they will see it happen. 

 So what’s your attitude toward righteousness?

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