by Thomas Watson
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Theme: a duty implied; a promise annexed.
Let us put ourselves upon a trial—whether we hunger and thirst after righteousness. I shall give you five signs by which you may judge of this hunger.
1. Hunger is a painful thing. Esau, when he was returning from hunting, was famished with hunger (Genesis 25:32). ‘Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them’ (Psalm 107:5). So a man who hungers after righteousness, is in anguish of soul and ready to faint away for it. He finds a lack of Christ and grace. He is distressed and in pain until he has his spiritual hunger stilled and allayed.
2. Hunger is satisfied with nothing but food. Bring a hungry man flowers or music; tell him pleasant stories—nothing will content him but food. ‘Shall I die for thirst!’ says Samson (Judges 15:18). So a man who hungers and thirsts after righteousness says, ‘Give me Christ or I die! Lord, what will you give me seeing I go Christless? What though I have abilities, wealth, honor and esteem in the world? All is nothing without Christ. Give me Jesus—and it will suffice me. Let me have Christ to clothe me, Christ to feed me, Christ to intercede for me!’ While the soul is Christless, it is restless. Nothing but the water-springs of Christ’s blood, can quench its thirst.
3. Hunger wrestles with difficulties and hunts for food. We say hunger breaks through stone walls (Genesis 42:1, 2). The soul that spiritually hungers is resolved—Christ it must have; grace it must have. And to use Basil’s expression, the hungry soul is almost distracted until it enjoys the thing it hungers after.
4. A hungry man goes to his food with a strong appetite. You need not make an oration to a hungry man and persuade him to eat. So he who hungers after righteousness feeds eagerly on an ordinance. ‘Your words were found, and I did eat them’ (Jeremiah 15:16). In the sacrament he feeds with appetite upon the body and blood of the Lord. God loves to see us feed hungrily on the bread of life.
5. A hungry man tastes sweetness in his food. So he who hungers after righteousness relishes a sweetness in heavenly things. Christ is to him all marrow, yes the quintessence of delights. ‘You have tasted that the Lord is gracious’ (1 Peter 2:3). He who spiritually hungers, tastes the promises sweet—nay tastes a reproof sweet. ‘To the hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet’ (Proverbs 27:7). A bitter reproof is sweet. He can feed upon the myrrh of the gospel as well as the honey. By these evidences, we may judge of ourselves whether we hunger and thirst after righteousness.
The words may serve to comfort the hearts of those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; I doubt not but it is the grief of many a gracious heart—that he cannot be more holy, that he cannot serve God better. ‘Blessed are those who hunger’. Though you do not have as much righteousness as you would—yet you are blessed because you hunger after it. Desire is the best evidence of a Christian. Actions may be counterfeit. A man may do a good action for a bad end. So did Jehu. Actions may be compulsory. A man may be forced to do that which is good—but not to will that which is good. Therefore we are to nourish good desires and to bless God for them. Oftentimes a child of God has nothing to show for himself, but desires. ‘Your servants, who desire to fear your name’ (Nehemiah 1:11). These hungerings after righteousness proceed from love. A man does not desire that which he does not love. If you did not love Christ, you could not hunger after him.