. . . they shall mount up with wings as eagles . . . Isaiah 40:31

Righteousness

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

The word translated “blessed” in these passages of scripture is the Greek word “Makarios”, which, according to the Greek concordance means “happy.”

It’s not difficult to see that the number one universal desire in people is to be happy. The Declaration of Independence speaks of the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, declaring that men have a God-given right to be happy and to pursue happiness. This section of scripture in Matthew chapter 5, referred to as the Beatitudes, presents the teachings of Jesus on how to be happy. Jesus is answering in His first sermon the number one question of mankind, how to find true happiness.

In this scripture in Matthew 5:6 Jesus is saying that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are happy and blessed of God. So if we desire to be happy then it stands to reason that we should take time to understand what He is saying in this passage. But what is righteousness? To understand this scripture we must first fully understand what Jesus means by the word righteousness. Man’s definition may be different than God’s definition.

It goes without argument that Christians should have high moral standards, live clean lives, and do good things. But does the presence of these things indicate the presence of righteousness? After all, there are numerous people in the world who have high morals, live clean lives, do good things and try not to wrong others, but have not yet come to know the Lord Jesus as their Savior. Have these people as the result of their high morals and good deeds received God’s free gift of righteousness through Christ? The answer, of course, is no. Righteousness, at least the righteousness that Christian’s receive through faith in the work of Calvary, is received by believing the gospel and making Jesus the Lord of their life. It is not the result of doing good things.

Ephesians 2:8 or by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

The righteousness we receive in Christ is not the result of works, but the result of God’s graciousness, His grace. It is a free gift we receive through believing. What are we saved from? We are saved from unrighteousness. Righteousness is imputed, or imparted, to us. The Bible says that righteousness was counted unto Abraham because he believed God.

Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Romans 4:22 And therefore it was imputed [reckoned, accounted] to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed [reckoned, accounted] to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed [reckoned, accounted], if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

Now I said all of that to break us out of the mold of natural thinking long enough for us to look at righteousness in a different light. Our immediate thoughts when we hear the word righteousness are thoughts about being good and doing good things. But in thinking more scripturally we must recall that righteousness is first of all a free gift we receive from God when we believe on Jesus at salvation.

Romans 5:17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

Now let’s go back to our scripture text.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

As we look at these words again two things become evident; the righteousness Jesus is talking about can be hungered and thirsted after, and we can be filled with it.

The Bible says that we are to seek righteousness.

Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

It appears that righteousness is connected to seeking the kingdom of God. The question begs to be asked, “What is seeking the kingdom?” A quick trip to the Greek concordance will shed some light on the meaning of these two words, seek and righteousness.

The Greek word translated “seek” is “zeteo”, and it means to seek to find out by thinking, meditating, reasoning, and enquiring into something.

The Greek word that is rendered as “righteousness” in this passage is the word “dikaiosune” and it means correctness of thinking that brings the approval of God.

Seeking the kingdom of God has to do with diligently thinking and enquiring into something to obtain God’s righteousness, a righteousness that has to do with right thinking and correct understanding. It has to do with thinking into and enquiring into the word of God through meditation until the truth of that word is revealed to our spiritual understanding.

Proverbs 2:1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

The knowledge of God must be found out by receiving God’s word, hiding it within us, inclining our ear to that word and inclining our heart to understand it, by crying after that understanding, or hungering and thirsting for it, by seeking it as if for silver or as if for hidden treasure.

Righteousness has to do with God’s right thoughts and His right way of doing things. It is the understanding of God’s ways that make up His righteousness, and it’s the understanding of God’s ways that we should hunger and thirst after. And, last of all, it’s the understanding of God’s ways that we shall be filled with when we hunger and thirst after it.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

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