“God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.”
I started this post yesterday but wasn’t able to finish til tonight, so hopefully it still reads fluidly.
6:19 am on a Monday morning, the Scripture for one of my morning devotions was Matthew 5:3-9 and verse 6 in particular stood out to me. I’ve heard the New International Version (NIV) version which uses the word righteousness. Even the sometimes complicated King James Version (KJV) states “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled”. It was interesting to me this morning when I read the passage in the New Living Translation (NLT) and saw that instead of righteousness it has justice. Both of these words have intrigued me.
When reading the NIV and seeing that one hungers and thirsts for righteousness, I have this visual of a man holding a food tray in one hand and a beverage in the other hand. There is a large crowd of people walking around and no one is stopping to partake in this meal with him. He knows that a few of them are not asking to join him because they are already convinced they cannot afford what he is asking for the meal. But the majority of the people running around, doing their day to day activities, simply are not hungry. That desire for a good meal with a refreshing drink is not with them, so they keep going. They know he is there, they know who he is, but they have no desire to dine with him. They have no hunger and thirst and sadly, almost all of them do not realize they are missing this hunger and thirst.
Growing up in the Pentecostal churches, I cannot tell you how many times I have read this Scripture and heard how we have to hunger and thirst in order to grow in our relationship with Christ. I heard it so many times that it became just another phrase for me — just words. I was one of those people who knew The One holding the tray but never stopping to partake in the meal with Him, never stopping to tell that person beside me who was hungry “Hey, you don’t have to pay for that meal. He always buys enough for two. He just wants your company”.
Lately, I have discovered that hunger and thirst which seemed to elude me before. That desire which I knew should be there but simply wasn’t….or so I thought. You see, spiritually speaking, I was anorexic. I knew I needed food and water to nourish me. I knew it was a requirement to grow and become stronger. But I had blinders on and I could not acknowledge this need for spiritual food. I was blind to the fact that my “meals” on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings were not meant to hold me for the entire week, but rather to act as a supplement to my daily time alone. It was as if He was saying “You are hungry….you are thirsty…..please join me in my meal”, but I could not hear.
Where to begin with justice? It seems as if you cannot turn to any direction without hearing of some catastrophe. Not just any news channel, but the popular social media like Facebook and Twitter as well. Just typing in “2012 shootings” on Google I find 4 incidents on the first page of results: August 24, Empire State Building; April 7, Tulsa, Oklahoma; April 2, Oakland, California; and February 27, Chardon, Ohio. In addition the country is still mourning the shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
This Scripture, when using the word justice, reminds me of the Romans 12:19b “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” It seems that with every news post about a crime like these, there are a dozen or more people wishing a swift death to the perpetrator. I sometimes think that these Scriptures, like the one in Romans, was not only meant to encourage us that “justice will prevail” as we say, but also to keep us from harboring anger and bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts. We don’t have to “forgive and forget” about the lives that were injured or lost, but neither do I think that is it healthy for us to allow our emotions to grow and fester in our hearts. If our emotions control us rather than us controlling our emotions, how many other areas of our lives will be in disarray? Our finances? Our housework? Our sleeping habits? How can we expect control in the most important areas of our lives if we listen to the lies of the Enemy and his demons rather than our Father? His still, quiet, comforting voice is asking us to trust Him. Asking us to stop listening to the torments, take back the control over our emotions, and let Him be our guide in EVERYTHING.