Matthew 5:6 (New International Version)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
In a different context, addressing his disciples and the surrounding crowd, Jesus spoke similar words: “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied” (Luke 6:21). In many ways, this verse is easier for us to understand than Matthew 5:6. After all, at some point in life we have all probably experienced feeling hungry, then the happy feeling that comes from being filled.
In today’s scripture, Jesus takes that familiar experience of yearning, and puts a twist on it: “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” The Greek dikaisyne means what is right, or justice. It means righting wrongs. If we are following God, we will yearn for righteousness in our lives and in the world around us.
When we understand– really understand– the depth of God’s love for us, then injustice, persecution, abuse become intolerable to us. Bill Hybels, a pastor out in Illinois, calls this “holy discontent.” I love that phrase. In his book by the same name, he says this: “Truth be told, the most inspired, motivated, and driven people I know are the ones who live their lives from the energy of their holy discontent. They have a constant awareness that what is wrecking them is wrecking the heart of God. Refusing to stay fed up, though, they instead get fueled by their restless longing for the better-day realities God says are coming soon. They listen to the soulish instinct inside them that says life just doesn’t have to be the way that most people experience it.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
At my work computer, I have a wonderful program that pulls up multiple Bible translations at the same time. It’s the German translation that I found most interesting for verse 6 today. In it, Jesus promises that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled: “sie werden gesättigt werden.”
“Sie werden” means “they will”– something that will happen in the future. But “gesättigt werden” is a preterite form– it’s past tense– “became satisfied.” So, we’re looking at an accomplished fact, but set in the future: “They will became satisfied.”
Huh? Outside of time travel and Doctor Who, how can something in the future already be accomplished? God doesn’t view time the same way we do. When we seek after God’s righteousness, we may not see the results immediately. We may not see the results in our lifetime. But Jesus promises us that our yearning for justice will be satisfied. Our efforts are a part of that future accomplishment. Our efforts matter!
How can knowing that true righteousness will one day exist for all give you more enthusiasm for pursuing what is right… right now?