Thursday, July 10, 2008

Matthew 5:6 A Holy Appetite

In high school, I was a member of the band. I played saxophone. I was invited to a few honor bands where we would be gone for the better part of a weekend. While on theses trips, we usually ate at fast food places. One time in particular, I had been on a three day diet of junky fast food. We pulled into a parking lot with three or four fast food restaurants in walking distance and a grocery store that had a deli. I went to the grocery store deli and got a 5 vegetable plate. My body said “I want something green.”In our spiritual life, we also experience hungers and cravings. We are admonished in I Peter 2:2 to crave the spiritual milk of the Word of God. Jesus, in this verse in Matthew, tells us more about the need of our spirit.

First of all, notice the attitude that He describes. He calls people who have the spiritual hunger that he is talking about “Blessed” which translates a Greek word “makarios” (3107). You could probably translate the word as “Happy” and get a better sense of what it means. People in America are consumed with finding happiness. They act as though it is a commodity that you can purchase in a store on online for that matter. People look for it in jobs, accomplishments, relationships and come to the end of their searches to find themselves still empty and hollow—no closer to happiness than when they started their search. I suspect if most people read these verses and they were asked what they thought about Jesus saying these were the ways to happiness, they would respond in disbelief. Thinking only about this verse, for instance, I can’t imagine anyone saying that being hungry or thirsty for anything would be a key to happiness. In fact, that would be the opposite of being happy in most people’s minds.

This attitude of happiness is related to the appetite of the person Jesus is describing. He says that the person who is “Blessed”will “hunger and thirst”. Now, if a person is hungry or thirsty it stands to reason that they do not have what they are hungry or thirsty for. They hunger or thirst because they lack something. I was traveling to a job interview one summer and I had a leak in my radiator so to keep the engine from overheating between stops I would run the heater to bleed heat off of the engine. I was in a suit and it was a particularly hot summer. When I got to a gas station to get some radiator fluid and gas, I got a large water to drink because I was parched. I can’t think of a more delicious taste that I have ever tasted . It was like drinking cheesecake. I would not have been satisfied by eating some salty pretzels. Water was the only thing that was going to satisfy my thirst.

We should also recognize, regarding hunger and thirst that we can develop an appetite for something that we otherwise didn’t or wouldn’t crave. If we allow ourselves to be exposed to sin and worldliness our unredeemed flesh will crave that. If we want to have an appetite for the things of God, we should exercise spiritually. Paul writes in Philippians 2:12-13 “12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. “. We should exercise our spiritual gifts. We should involve ourselves in ministry. We should study the word of God to draw closer to Him.

Our aspiration in fact should be to draw close to God. As Jesus Himself says in this verse, we should have an appetite for “righteousness” (Gk-“dikaiosune” [1343]). Essentially, He uses something physical to explain a spiritual truth. In the same way our bodies hunger for food and thrist for drink, our spirits as Christians hunger and thrist for God’s righteousness. As we have seen in the verses in this sermon so far, this is the result of a humble heart that recognizes its spiritual poverty (v. 3) and has truly repented of its sin (v. 4) while also being God-controlled (v. 5). A heart that is in that kind of condition will feel the need for the righteousness of God because it will know that its own righteousness is incapable of pleasing God. We will be happy then when we have an appetite for the righteous character of God to dwell within us and live through us.

The most wonderful words in this verse to me are Jesus’ promise that those who have this kind of appetite “shall be satisfied”. The Greek word “chortazo” (5526) translated here as “satisfied” was a term used in dealing with livestock. What it meant was to allow an animal to feed until it was completely satisfied. Quite literally, an animal would be permitted until it did not want to eat anymore. I relate this to a human being at a Thanksgiving lunch. I can remember as a child eating Thanksgiving at my Mawmaw’s house and literally feeling like I was going to pop. We as Christians have the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit and He works to mature us in Christlikeness but we will not be fully “satisfied” until we reach our home in heaven. However, we have the promise here of the One who is completely faithful to all His promises that we will one day have our desire for righteousness satisfied. Praise God for His faithfulness and our future redemption.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

2 comments:

Trish said...

How amazing these verses are. I can remember as a child memorizing all of the Beatitudes. I don't know that I totally grasped them (or honestly do today) at that time. In looking at the Blessed are's you are right on that the world just couldn't see this. How could they? How could a lot of Christians? This has to be a person so totally walking with Christ that he/she knows whatever need they have will be met. Happy is the person who knows they can trust Christ to meet every need. As Hebrew 4:15 says Seeing then that we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities but was in all points tempted like as we are-yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Happy we can be to have our spiritual needs met. Praise God!

Joe Blackmon said...

Trish

I'm still learning this stuff too. Thanks for the comment.