October 4

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6

The hunger to be filled with the Holy Spirit is a deadly form of idolatry unless it is the hunger to be filled with righteousness. There is often much debate about the different kinds of blessings that can appear in Christian circles – there may be discussion about being ‘slain in the spirit’, or similar things. But there is no controversy when there is an outbreak of righteousness! This is universally recognisable as the effect of God’s hand on a life. When God is moving in a person’s life, stolen goods are returned and broken relationships are restored because that person has come to brokenness and humility. This thirst to be righteous is not the same as the thirst to be forgiven; it is the thirst for power to live right. Forgiveness will deal with my guilt and shame, and the forgiveness of Jesus does this thoroughly and effectively. But it cannot satisfy the second need of my heart, which is to have power to live. Whatever blessings I may receive will prove empty unless they lead to an improvement in my lifestyle. Notice, too, that this hunger is only satisfied by being filled – a touch or temporary improvement will actually disappoint in the end. We long for that empowering that radically changes our appetites, and deals with unclean things in our hearts. Jesus here teaches that the precursor of baptism with the Holy Spirit is hunger for right living. Beware passive interpretation of Jesus’ words – spiritual hunger is not like being born with blue eyes, where we play no active part in the matter. If we have no spiritual hunger, we are eating the wrong things, and we are morally responsible to change the way we live and to begin to hunger after the things of God.