Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled (KJV). To hunger for righteousness means to crave righteousness. A hunger that is specific in nature. It goes beyond being merely hungry for something, and it becomes something that must be fulfilled in order to survive. Spiritually speaking, without righteousness, we cannot survive. To thirst means to have an ardent desire. It means passion. It is that thirst which can only be quenched by the living water of God, which is filled with righteousness. It is similar to being so dehydrated that a person edges on insanity if he does not get water soon. This is one passionate desire that Jesus said is a blessing to have and one that may be eternally fulfilled. Because we are made in the image of God, our desires should be for things that reflect His nature.
When righteousness is fulfilled in our lives, our lives come into order. Righteousness opens the doors of blessing, as it puts us in right standing with God. Jesus said, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? . . . But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:25-33, KJV). When we are righteous before God, we are also qualified for His Kingdom. It is not enough to just have a longing for righteousness; we need to seek it as well. We can hunger and thirst all day long, but these alone do not fulfill the need. We have to go to the Source of righteousness in order to receive it. Just as being hungry for food does not in of itself feed us, we have to obtain it if our stomachs are going to be full. What is this thing that we should yearn so much to have?
Righteousness refers to God’s uprightness or standard, and for us, it means conforming to that standard. It is strictly honorable or honest, moral or ethical, principled, virtuous, noble, and incorruptible. It means to be just, which is being equitable in character and action. It is the quality of being fair and impartial. If we are righteous, our actions will follow suit. Meaning, what we do is the result of what we are; we are not what we do. True righteousness and self-righteousness are diametrically opposed to each other. That is why have receive it from the Source, instead doing things we think make us righteous. It is one thing to do a “good thing”; it is quite another to do the right thing. “Good works” do not make us righteous before God. How can sinful people ever live up to a Standard that is far above their capacity? Without God’s nature in us, we can never be righteous.
Hunger and thirst also point to the Bread and Wine, which are symbolic of the Body and Blood of Jesus found in the New Covenant. John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the Bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst (KJV). John 6:47-55 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life. I am that Bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the Bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever: and the Bread that I will give is My Flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed (KJV). 1Corintians 11:23-26 brings us much clarity to this passage of Scripture: “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My Body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in My Blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as ye eat this Bread, and Drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He come” (KJV).
When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we hunger and thirst for Jesus. Jesus is our righteousness; therefore, our righteousness is based on what He did and not what we do (see 2Corinthians 5:21). Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (KJV). As we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior by grace through faith, we also receive His righteous nature (see Ephesians 2:8-10). If Jesus lives in us, we are indeed filled to overflowing.