(Synopsis of message preached at Ebenezer Fellowship on 28 November 2015)

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall
be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

Every man has experienced hunger or thirst at some point in his life. We need
food and water in order to live. When we lack food and water, we will be hungry
and thirsty. If we do not eat or drink, we will soon die.

In the Fourth Beatitude, Jesus was not addressing physical hunger, but that
which is spiritual. Just like how our physical needs are real, we also have our
spiritual needs. Just like how a beggar will be desperate for food and drink, we
too must have a strong yearning for our spiritual needs to be met.

Jesus teaches us that we must yearn for “righteousness”. All men must
acknowledge their need for righteousness for the Scripture tells us that “there is
none that is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). We are born in iniquity, and
our works are stained with sin. Since God is all holy and righteous, there is no
way man can enter into heaven without righteousness. Those who are poor in
spirit will realise his desperate need and will hunger and thirst after righteousness.
What then is this righteousness that man needs? The religious leaders in Jesus
time assumed that this righteousness is “self-righteousness”. They thought that
their legalistic and ritualistic ways would earn them entrance into heaven. They
were proud of their adherence to man-made traditions, and boasted about their
morality. They could not understand that man has no righteousness of himself,
and the works of unregenerate men are like filthy rags in the sight of God (Isaiah
64:6). It is thus most foolish for any man to think that they can earn their way to
heaven by their own righteousness for he has none in the first place! Thus Jesus
warned the hearers in Matthew 5:20 – “. . . That except your righteousness shall
exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter
into the kingdom of heaven.”

The righteousness that we must yearn for must be the righteousness that comes
from God through the Lord Jesus Christ. This is made possible by the active and
passive obedience of Christ. Christ’s active obedience refers to His sinless life
and how He kept the commandments of God perfectly as our representative (1
Peter 2:22). On the other hand, Christ’s passive obedience involves His suffering
on our behalf, His death on the cross for our atonement and propitiation of our
sins. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8) Thus Romans
5:19 says, “For as by one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Jesus Christ] shall many be made righteous.”

How can we possess the righteousness of Christ? Romans 10:9-10 declares, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” For man to possess the righteousness of God, he must repent from his sin and believe in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. When the sinner comes desperately to Christ for salvation, God will cleanse the sinner with Christ’s precious blood, and clothe him with the righteousness of Christ. The sinner who hungers and thirsts after the righteousness of Christ shall be filled!

However, this hunger and thirst for righteousness does not end at the point of salvation. In the Beatitude, the terms “hunger” and “thirst” are written in the present tense. This “hungering” and “thirsting” for righteousness is thus a trait that can be seen throughout a believer’s life. His life will be a continuous pursuit for righteousness, for he seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. He will seek to know more of God’s Word, and obey all His statutes and precepts. He will also pray without ceasing with fervency and zeal for he knows that God is the one who directs his path in the way of righteousness.

God promises those who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness that they shall be filled. He has made provision for this filling in His precious Word and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will lead the saint into all truth and will strengthen him as he seeks to do God’s will. The saint will yield the fruit of the Spirit in all goodness, righteousness and truth (Ephesians 5:9). The reason many Christians feel so impoverished in their walk with God is a refusal to walk in God’s Word and the Spirit. If only we would hunger and thirst after God’s Word, just like how a beggar would thirst after food!

As a testimony, I am heartened to see many of the young ones attend the Ebenezer fellowship during their examinations. They could have stayed at home to study. However, they know the importance of a whole-hearted pursuit after the righteousness of God. It also reveals the faith of the parents as it shows that they are concerned of their children’s spiritual needs. They are eager that their children should seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). They trust that God would look after the other needs of their children as the family pursues after righteousness.

Moreover, this Beatitude looks beyond the present to the day when we reach heaven. In heaven, there will be no more sin. Christ’s righteousness will be most magnificently manifested and expressed in us!

Dear reader, does this Beatitude describe you? Have you trusted in Christ for His righteousness? Are you in constant pursuit of His righteousness? This is the mark of those who have a blessed relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. May you be found among the blessed ones!

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew