It is a wonderful feeling to be satisfied. Unfortunately, in this world, many people never experience it. Many, having obtained riches, fame or pleasure, have confessed their lack of satisfaction.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pronounced a blessing on those who are hungry and thirsty. This is the fourth step in the ladder of spiritual progression. He said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). To hunger and thirst after righteousness is the result of the spiritual experience of the first three beatitudes:
- First the recognition of our spiritual poverty, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (verse 3).
- This leads to heart sorrow for our spiritual condition because of our sins, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (verse 4).
- And that leads us to an experience of meekness or humbleness; the leanness and nakedness of soul causes a crying out after God and His righteousness, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (verse 5).
Jesus said that the soul’s hunger for righteousness will be satisfied. A good appetite is a sign of life and health. If you have ever taken care of someone who is dying, it is very common that they will have no desire for food and will lose their appetite the last few days of their life. Only people who are alive hunger and thirst. A lack of appetite is generally a sign either of sickness or of failing health. Hunger and thirst grow less as life is diminished, but they increase as life increases.
When a person dies, hunger and thirst cease altogether, but a baby who is healthy, has an appetite that seems never to fail because it is growing. A good appetite is a great blessing because it is evidence that you have a normal, healthy body, and that makes life more worthwhile. Those who enjoy their meals have a much more satisfying life than those who eat just because they have to. Hunger and thirst are evidences of growth and development. No person can grow without a good, healthy appetite.
This is true not only in the physical realm, but also in the intellectual realm. It is only those who hunger and thirst for knowledge who continue to grow in wisdom and develop in intellectual power. We owe a great deal in our world today to those with an insatiable appetite for wisdom and knowledge. They have sought out and learned things, invented and discovered things that have changed our world. But many people, if not most, lose their mental appetite early in life, and then they no longer seek wisdom and knowledge; they just go through the motions of living. This is even true of many professional people – ministers, lawyers, teachers, physicians. There are many people who die mentally long before they die physically. This is a great tragedy, but we live in a tragic world.
Matthew 5:6 has a special reference to a person’s spiritual life and appetite. But here you have the very same principles that exist in the physical and intellectual worlds. Hunger and thirst are absolutely essential to spiritual life and growth. The person who has no appetite for spiritual things is spiritually dead and the person who has a poor spiritual appetite is spiritually sick. Only a normal, healthy Christian will have a ravenous appetite for the bread of life and the waters of salvation and will greatly enjoy his spiritual food and drink.
Unfortunately, most professed Christians today suffer from spiritual malnutrition, are spiritually weak and anemic, and it takes but little spiritual food to satisfy them. They are very particular, very picky, about what they eat, when they eat, and who feeds them. Many are kept alive only because they are being spoon-fed, for they do not have appetite and energy enough to feed themselves. This is a pathetic situation, especially when there is a great spiritual banquet spread for all, but this is not only a problem in our time. The apostle Paul addressed this very same situation when he wrote, “By this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12–14).
The person who is spiritually proud feels no need. He already feels perfectly satisfied, and therefore, he has no appetite for spiritual things. This was true concerning the Pharisees in the time of Christ. They felt no need, and so they received no benefit from the bread and water of life that Jesus freely offered to anyone who hungered and thirsted for it. Before Jesus was born, Mary, His mother, spoke about this very thing. In Luke 1:53, she said, “He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.”
When Jesus told the Jews that He was the bread of life, and only those who would eat His flesh and drink His blood could have eternal life, many were offended. It says they “walked no more with Him” (John 6:66). It was for this reason that the very first blessing in the beatitudes is pronounced upon those who are poor in spirit. These people feel their need and mourn for their spiritual condition. They will become meek, and lowly and gentle, and as they hunger and thirst for something they don’t have, their need will be fulfilled.
We see the same spiritual condition of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time in the Christian church today. The church feels neither hunger nor thirst because it is not poor in spirit. Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus predicted the condition of the Christian church in the last days, saying: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit [spew] you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:15–17). The church today does not recognize its spiritual poverty and does not mourn over its sins. It is not meek and humble, but rather proud and boastful of its spiritual wealth. It says it is rich and increased in goods and has need of nothing. Because of this, Jesus Christ, the Dispenser of the bread of life, is unable to feed the modern church; it is spiritually sick, has no appetite and does not realize her condition. Christ offers the church an abundance of food, but it feels well-filled and already satisfied.
The Lord describes His people in the last days as being naked and, at the same time, going about as if in a dress parade. The church has no divine covering for its sins, but through its religious rituals, it has provided for itself a garment. The Lord calls these garments filthy rags. “We are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You” (Isaiah 64:6, 7, first part).
The Laodicean church thinks it is clothed, although the Lord sees their clothing “as filthy rags.” Jesus says, “Come and buy from Me … white raiment that you may be truly clothed” (Revelation 3:18, literal translation). They must be awakened for He offers them the wedding garment, His robe of righteousness, that will prepare them for heaven.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they were ashamed, because the garment of light that had covered their nakedness had left them. They did not want to appear in front of the Lord naked, so they sewed garments of fig leaves together to clothe themselves. But the Lord did not accept those garments. He provided them with garments made possible only by the death of a symbolic lamb.
The Lord wants to do in a spiritual sense for the modern church as He did for our first parents in a physical sense. He wants us to realize our nakedness, and then He wants to provide us with His righteousness that will cover us so that the shame of our nakedness does not appear (see Revelation 16:15).
Of all human cravings, there are none more powerful than the physical cravings of hunger and thirst. Any person or animal who is hungry or thirsty will make every effort to obtain food and drink. Have you read stories of individuals who could not get food or water for a long period of time? I read of a survivor who said, “I cannot even think about it, even to the present day, without rushing out to the kitchen to get a drink of water. To think of that terrible thirst, was just like a fire inside of me.”
People who have become lost in the desert and have been without water for days, will see what they believe is water, but it is just a mirage. The water of life that Jesus offers is not a mirage. It is a well of living water (John 4:14). And this is our great need in the modern generation, a thirst for the water of life. We need a soul-hunger for the bread of life and thirst for the water of life. Those who hunger and thirst for these are promised that they will be satisfied.
If the modern church could be given a good spiritual appetite, she would not long remain in her present spiritual condition. The Bible records the story when Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar: “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked of Him, and He would have given you living water.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?’ … Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water [physical water] will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life’ ” (John 4:10–14).
Jesus said to the Jews in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes on Me will never thirst.” But then He spoke the following mournful words in verse 36: “But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.” Friend, do you want something you don’t have or are you like the millions of spiritually proud people of all ages who are perfectly satisfied just the way they are? Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (verse 37).
You see, complete satisfaction is promised only to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. The Lord makes the following invitation: “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully [diligently] to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live” (Isaiah 55:1–3, first part).
Complete satisfaction is still available; it’s still waiting in our modern, wretched, poverty-stricken, naked church as soon as we wake up and want something better than what we have. The blessing is pronounced on those who are hungry and thirsty, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.” They will be completely satisfied.
If you feel perfectly satisfied right now, it’s time for you to pray and ask the Lord for a hunger and thirst for that which will bring perfect and lasting satisfaction, spiritually and intellectually; that which eventually will lead to eternal life. Jesus, standing and knocking at the door of the modern church, says to the lukewarm, self-satisfied church, Come, I have something for you. He says, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” (Revelation 3:18).
How is it with your life? Jesus says, Obtain gold from Me. Spiritual gold is faith. If you have faith, Jesus said that you can obtain everything you need, everything is possible if you have faith. But also, if you have spiritual gold, you have wealth. Spiritual gold is spiritual wealth. Spiritual wealth is love, which is the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:14). So spiritual gold is faith and love.
We need the white raiment, which is the righteousness of Christ, the righteousness that we must have to enter into the kingdom of heaven; the righteousness that no human being can generate.
We will need eye salve, the spiritual anointing that gives a person the discernment to see the deceptions of Satan, so that he may see sin and hate it and turn from it and have the ability to see the truth and to obey it.
Only Jesus can satisfy the deepest spiritual need of your soul, and He will, if you’ll come to Him. Jesus says these are what you need and you won’t be poor any longer. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.” Christ is our righteousness. He says, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink” (John 7:37 KJV).
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.