“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
I think this must be one of the most beautiful promises there is. Not only am I truly happy when I desire righteousness, but I also will receive it. I want to do what is right and good. I want to know that everything is going to be okay. I want to be in the clear with God. I want to know that I am divinely acceptable to Him who is divine.
This beatitude is understandable to me today, but it must not have even seemed possible to the people listening. Filled with righteousness? Didn’t they all try really hard to follow hundreds of laws and only fail? Didn’t trying harder to fulfill them almost seem to make their attempts to fulfill them even more futile? There were those Pharisees and teachers of the law that seemed to have their crap together, but righteousness was available to anyone who wanted it?
Certainly the listeners must have become even more confused when a few minutes later, Jesus declared, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
How in heaven’s name could they become more righteous than the Pharisees? and if they hungered for it, they would simply receive it? Really? Because that isn’t the way life seemed to be working out for them thus far.
But it has worked out for me. I hungered and thirsted for righteousness, and I was perfectly and completely filled. I asked Him, and Jesus simply gave me His. I am perfectly righteous. I didn’t have to keep one single rule to become so. All I needed to do was place my faith in Him.
One of the things that I have noticed in life since realizing I am righteous is that it is not scary for me to talk to God about my weaknesses and sins anymore. Sometimes it is still scary for me to talk to people about them though. People judge me and throw me under the bus all the time. Sometimes they say they don’t judge me, but then judge me anyway.
God isn’t like that. It isn’t that He can’t distinguish the difference between what I do that is bad and what I do that is good; it is just that what I do doesn’t change whether He finds me acceptable. I have been made completely and 100% righteous through the blood of the Lamb. I don’t have to be afraid of God anymore because He is always smiling at me. Some of the things I do make Him frown a little, but they don’t ever make Him scratch His head. My sinful nature doesn’t surprise Him. He always remembers that I am dust.
I am righteous just like Him. I never have to do another thing to become so. He did everything for me. It feels really good to be acceptable.
This evening I considered the leper who came to Jesus in Matthew 8. I love in the Scriptures how Jesus reaches out and touches what is unclean. So often I have experienced something entirely different from people – even His followers. Jesus went out of His way to touch what is unclean. It must have been so emotionally healing for those He touched. He could have just spoken a word. He didn’t have to touch them first. I know if I could say a word to make my toilet clean before I had to touch it to clean it, I would; but Jesus wasn’t like that. If I could somehow clean a baby’s diaper by saying a word before I ever changed it, I would; but Jesus didn’t do that.
He must have seen value in touching what was unclean because that is what He consistently did. He opens His arms to me when I come running to Him like a child covered with mud and dirt from my various adventures in the park. Unlike a mother in her best dress, who might hold her child at arm’s length until they have a chance to clean themselves, He wraps me in His loving arms. His very touch cleanses me. He is not afraid of my sin and shame. He knows it cannot make Him unclean. He knows His righteousness is more powerful than any of my brokenness.
He touched me when I was unclean, and I became completely and entirely righteous as a result. He is so clean that it didn’t even make Him dirty to touch me. Instead it made me clean. The power of His touch is life-transforming. He can drive out the spirits with a word, heal all the sick, cleanse all the leprous, raise all the dead, turn the water into wine, and make me clean.
Hallelujah. What a Savior.