Fill ‘Er Up
Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.
Nothing satisfies like a good meal. All day, we anticipate dinner with friends, and it turns out to be as good as we’d imagined. When we finish the dessert and the last cup of coffee, we push back our chairs and relax with our friends. We’re “filled” in every way.
A fine dinner with good friends is perfect imagery for the satisfaction we experience when we hunger and thirst for God and His purposes. Hunger and thirst aren’t aberrations in life, they are, in fact, signs of life. When we long, want, and desire the things of God, our hearts fill with His wisdom, love, and peace.
Jesus makes a point of saying that we experience real satisfaction when we long for righteousness. That word isn’t used often today because it sounds, well, too churchy. Think of righteousness as a plumb line-a device that indicates when something is exactly vertical. Surveyors and builders use plum lines, and we should too. The plum line of righteousness in our lives isn’t somebody’s arbitrary list of dos and don’ts. Instead, it’s a sign of our passion to please God in everything we say and do. If we care that much about God, we won’t have to worry about the details.
The true value of anything is known only when it is wanted.
J. H. Darby
To hunger for God means that we aren’t filling up with the junk food of the world. All of us know in a physical sense that it’s easy to fill up with junk food that robs us of the capacity of eating healthy food. When my children were growing up, we knew that given their choice they would eat dessert before the nutritious food so we had to make sure they ate the good food first. There’s no question that junk food is tasty and attractive to our sense of smell and taste but it leaves us in a short while still hungry.
There were times when I was working construction that I didn’t want to stop and eat so I’d grab a Snickers. For a short time, the instant sense if being full and a burst of energy resulted from eating that bar. In the end it left me more hungry and after that initial burst of energy, I was less energetic than before I ate the bar. I would have been better off to have stopped and ate some nourishing food.
The same is true in a spiritual sense. I think we sometimes come to church so full of the junk food of the world that we don’t have room for the “bread of heaven.” Yet we all have experienced the constant hunger and the constant need to fill our lives again and again for the things of this world leave us empty. Like my Snickers bar they may give instant gratification but soon the thrill is past and we are more empty after the fact than we were before.
Another story I want to share about being hungry happened one day as I was working a good distance from any store or restaurant. That day I had forgotten to pack any food and as the day wore on I became hungry. I knew I’d have to drive miles to find some food so I scrounged through my truck to see what I could find. I found a pack of Nabs and a bottle of water. What a feast, I thought. I opened that pack of Nabs and took a bite. They were stale, but I was hungry so I kept eating. I opened the water and it tasted like plastic, but I was thirsty, so I kept drinking. As this was happening, the Lord spoke to me and said, “So many of my children are content with stale food and plastic tasting water. All the time I am offering a table spread before them of righteousness and offering them a spring of living water- My Spirit. They could be satisfied and filled with good things if they would direct their hunger and thirst toward me.” Now I must confess that the stale Nabs and the plastic water tasted pretty good at the time. The other lesson that God taught me that day is that hungry and thirsty people aren’t picky. Maybe you’ve had the experience of going to the grocery store when you’re hungry and having everything on the shelf to look inviting. You probably filled your cart with a lot of extra things. On the other hand, you’ve probably had the experience of shopping after a good meal and found nothing appealing. You see when we fill ourselves with the goodness of God, we minimize our taste for the things of this world.
I’ve found in my life and in observing others that sometimes a thing that is prohibited or restricted becomes more attractive. Something in the human nature causes us to desire those things that are limited. If we major in creating lists of dos and don’ts we set ourselves up for failure. Let me illustrate. In almost every occasion when Sherry and I dine out we are offered dessert. Rarely if ever do we take the offer. Not because we don’t like dessert or that’s it’s not good. Usually it’s because we are full from the main meal. I’ve found in a spiritual sense that those who seek the fullness of the Spirit and fill their lives with the Word lose their taste for the things the devil and the world offer. It isn’t a matter of what or what not but the loss of desire. I’ve found that when our desire for God and the things of God becomes our priority, that we don’t have to have a list of acceptable and unacceptable things.
If you want to live a life of righteousness, fill up on the things of God and you will discover that like grocery shopping after a good meal, what’s on the world’s shelves will be unappealing. As you read in my story, hunger and thirst are powerful things and they will cause you to partake in things that you would not do otherwise. We have heard that only Christ can satisfy and it’s true. I hope you will take this old guy’s word for it, for I can tell you that nothing in this world can satisfy. Like the candy and cake, it may satisfy our taste buds but will leave us craving more and more. Like the child who eats too much candy, it will only make us sick. But those who crave righteousness will be filled and left satisfied and healthy.
Dr. John Thompson