“At altar calls, people often come desiring more power, more anointing. Many need healing. Some need answers or revelation. But rarely do I encounter people who come forward who are desperate for righteousness.”
So said a pastor once who’d been ministering for more than four decades. Jesus said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). What are we as the church missing, not to be desiring righteousness?
What is righteousness? The Greek word is transliterated dikaios, and is defined in a broad sense as “the condition acceptable to God.” It is correctness in thinking, feeling and acting.
Did you know:
Righteousness is a weapon. Paul said to put on the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14) as part of our spiritual armor. He told the church, “Be wise in what is good and be innocent of what is evil [that’s the definition of righteousness]. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:19-20). This is a mighty declaration!
We can wryly believe sayings like “no good deed goes unpunished” when we see the way other people reward our righteousness. But how they react is not our focus; God’s opinion of our righteous conduct, including our very thoughts, is our existence. Although it doesn’t feel like we’re doing anything outstanding, except perhaps being taken advantage of, righteousness is actually a weapon of dynamite. Righteousness often involves speaking up, or staying humbly silent, when it is difficult. And to be righteous, what we do and say and the way we say it and the timing of it is all under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Righteousness is a key to deliverance. “The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the treacherous will be caught by their own greed” (Proverbs 11:6). Throughout Scripture, righteousness – doing what is honest and good and godly – is portrayed as a means of deliverance from evil. This is illustrated dozens of times in the Psalms and Proverbs, especially in connection with Israel winning battles against her enemies.
Righteousness exalts a nation. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). If you want your nation to prosper and become great, seek righteousness for it.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” What a promise! I think sometimes we in the west have had everything so readily accessible that we don’t know what real hunger – or thirst – is. But those who’ve not known where their next meal is to come from know hunger. Those who’ve lived in arid regions, or served in the military in hostile climates, know what it is to thirst.
Are you this desperate for righteousness? Are you so wildly needy to see right living, right thinking, right speech come to yourself, your church, and your nation, that it causes you to fast? Oh, Lord – we can’t work this up! But by Your Spirit, our spiritual appetites can be whetted to crave this righteousness.
Here’s a thought: Do you think when Jesus said “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled,” He meant it corporately as well as individually? In other words, is this true for the one who hungers and thirsts to see righteousness become the standard for the church?