Our hope is that the reader is beginning to grasp the natural and necessary flow of the Beatitudes. Awareness of our poverty leads us to mourn our condition. As we grieve over what has been lost and over the impact our brokenness has on God’s heart and ours, He comes to comfort us. Part of that comfort is the further revelation of who we really are in His heart, and of His commitment to bring us to that fullness if we will trust Him and embrace His ways.
The more we see of what God has for us, the more we begin to desire it. The more we are frustrated in our own attempts to produce by strength what He would give us by grace, the more we cast ourselves on Him in utter dependence. As He speaks to our hearts concerning His plans for our lives, the deeper our hunger grows to have these things established in our lives. The more we consider the person of Jesus and open our hearts to fall in love with Him, the more He touches us with His own desires for our fullness. He tenderly comforts us in our pain by awakening our hearts to deeply desire what He deeply desires. In other words, He answers our longings by giving us greater longings, taking us to the place where we are famished and parched for want of His reality.
You see, that is what righteousness is. It is the fullness of God’s design being realized in practical reality, all things being conformed to His desire and design. We have mistakenly thought that righteousness is merely the patterns of our external behavior, when in fact righteousness refers to conformity to God’s nature and design. Righteousness is first of all an internal conformity to God’s character that gets expressed in behavior that arises out of the internal reality. Righteousness is everything operating as it was designed to, in line at every level with God’s pattern and purpose.
When Jesus declares that He is looking for those who hunger and thirst for the reality of righteousness, He is telling us that He desires people whose greatest longing is to think, feel and act like He does. His promise to that group is that they will be satisfied, satiated with righteousness to a degree greater than they can fathom.
This matter of hungering and thirsting for righteousness is central to the purposes of God being realized on the earth. We believe that this fourth Beatitude is the pivot point in the list of character traits that Jesus outlines in Matthew 5. The first three Beatitudes lead up to it, and the final four proceed from it. From this point on, they begin to move into the positive expressions of Christ’s character, and so as the satisfaction of this hunger and thirst begins to come, other qualities begin to emerge as a natural result of that desire.