- God’s desire for internal righteousness (Matthew 5:1-4, 20)
- Spiritual poverty (Matthew 5:3)
- Mourning (Matthew 5:4)
- Humility (Matthew 5:5)
Here is how Jesus addresses the issue of holy ambition – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Mathew 5:6).
This Beatitude is about having godly ambition – not a self-righteous ambition – but a holy ambition. “Ambition” is a word you must be cautious about using as a Christian, because it can just as easily be used to describe an egotistical aspiration as it can an example of sanctification.
Think about the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Here was a disillusioned young man who wanted to experience the world on his own. He was tired of his dad, the rules, the regulations, etc. So, he took the money he accumulated, went out into the world and wasted it.
When he ran out of money, he was hungry for the wrong thing – more money. So, he found a job working with pigs. As he thought about his vocation of being a pig-worker, making very little money, he realized what he had done in disrespecting his father and squandered his money foolishly.
So, his level of hunger went to a whole new level. Only this time, he was hungry for the right thing. He wanted a reconciled and restored relationship to his father; so, he went home. When he was truly starving, he hungered to do the right thing. That is a depiction of what it means to hunger for “righteousness”; it is to hunger to be like God and pleasing to God.
We are born with a void to fill. Proverbs 27:20 says our hearts are never satisfied. Every man longs for purpose. We ask questions like, “What should I be? What should I do with my life? What are my goals? What about my dreams and desires?”
For the Christian, our ambition is one of being like God, being righteous. For the non-Christian, his/her ambition is for the accumulation of stuff, his/her fifteen minutes of fame, multiple bank accounts and stocks, a perfect “bill of health”, an encyclopedia of knowledge, multiple degrees and any trophy he can fit in his “boasting case.” Jesus says, “You don’t need any of that. Pursue ‘righteousness’.”
The “righteousness” Jesus is speaking of is practical “righteousness”. Every Christian is already positionally righteous, but every Christian should work towards being practically “righteousness”. We live off the “righteousness” of Christ. When Paul says that he looks at us as if we were righteous because of the sacrifice of Christ in the cross (II Corinthians 5:21), that is positional “righteousness.” That means we are righteous before God. Christ’s righteousness has purchased a place in heaven for us.
Practically speaking, we aren’t righteous. Every sin is unrighteousness. To hunger for “righteousness” is to hunger for the expulsion of sin in our lives, to not have the tainting of our flesh in our decision-making, and to be rid of the temptation to pursue evil.
You desperate for this kind of emulation? As you pursue “righteousness”, Jesus says you “shall be satisfied.” The word “satisfied” usually describes fattening an animal until it can eat no more. We seek and He satisfies. When you are righteous, God gives you satisfaction and a hunger for more “righteousness.”
Have you ever considered a time in the past and noticed an area of spiritual progression in your life and you just couldn’t help but be ecstatic that a particular sin wasn’t as big of a temptation for you anymore? That is the satisfaction Jesus refers to. As soon as we experience that satisfaction, we hunger for another area of “righteousness.”