The Upside-Down Blessing – Pt 4 – Righteous!

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled – Matthew 5:6

We are continuing our study of the upside-down blessings that start Christ’s most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. If you want to start the series from the beginning, start here.

Let’s begin this one in those formative middle childhood years, which for me were the late 80’s early 90’s. You would have found me slinging papers for a paper route, and mowing lawns in my neighborhood all to earn that precious cash that immediately disappeared into a comic book collecting, though I did have the self-control to save up for one small black and white TV. I remember it as a time of bikes, friends, cassette-tape walkmans, Gi-Joe, Transformers, Commodore 64’s, Dungeons and Dragons, Intellivision, and boom boxes!

About Nostalgia and Home and Hunger

What I never experienced as a kid, was being hungry, thirsty, or unsafe. That makes waxing nostalgic about this time period a bit challenging for me as an adult in 2023, because as a child I had absolutely zero idea of what was going on in the world, lived in a safe and blessed community and home, was a part of a youth group at the church, and so much more. I really did honestly think, as a kid, that everyone else everywhere was having relatively the same experience growing up that I had, and it would be many, many years later that I would realize that many people in the world weren’t experiencing the 80’s and 90’s like I was.

Part of this was because my family grew up in suburbia, but part of it also was because my parents did a bang-up job keeping the stress of the world, or even our own family’s struggles, from really impacting me (which to be honest probably wasn’t too hard, my head was always in the clouds). In working for the church though, my travels to other countries and cultures and overall exposure to the world as an adult has helped me appreciate and be thankful for my sheltered upbringing. At the time, I didn’t even know it was a gift. Now I do. In my heart though, what I had is something I wish everyone could have had, and that’s probably why ministries like food banks, foster agencies, and housing ministries are the places where I look to serve or donate when I have the time and resources to do so. I think everyone deserves a safe home with enough food, and a blessed and imaginative childhood.

Here are some of the agencies I have worked with or donated to over the last 20 years and can happily endorse:

There are very good people, doing very good work, in each of these ministries.

Righteousness, and Hunger

The word righteous was very popular in my childhood, it was surfer slang, based on 1940’s jazz slang, and worked its way into lots of pop culture references – see Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure – and it meant something that was ‘excellent’ or ‘really good’ or ‘awesome’. A little bit different from the Biblical definition which is actually quite simple. In the Bible, righteousness just means “doing the right thing”.  It’s even got the word “right” inside of it to remind us.  A righteous person, according to scripture, is one who walks a path of Christian discipleship, avoids sin, and does good in God’s name. 

Well, of course someone like that would be blessed! I mean, they’re out there doing good in the world and they’re following God, this really seems kinda obvious doesn’t it. Well, yes and no. Look again at the scripture. Notice it’s not about actions at all. It’s about desire. I love it because it doesn’t say “Blessed are those who are already righteous…”  or  “Blessed are those who have achieved righteousness…”  or “… are out there doing righteousness.” It says blessed are the people who are hungry and thirsty for it.

I don’t mean in any way to downplay the actions and importance of actually doing good. Nor do I mean to excuse you, dear reader, from doing good by saying “really you just have to want it.” No, what I’m saying is this: Maybe the actual doing of the good is the easy part, and the hard part is learning to hunger and thirst for good.

So, I’ve tried to share with you one of the places where my hunger and thirst for good comes from: my childhood. Sure, there are other places that inspire me to seek goodness, but my childhood has baggy jeans, Indiana Jones, and feathered hair in it so it’s cool. It also has God in it, and that means a lot. I know how blessed my upbringing, and home life was, and part of my desire for righteousness comes from a desire help others have what I had. This is one of the places where I hunger and thirst for good things. What are yours? Where do your reasons for doing good come from?

Just in the same way that when you truly hunger and thirst for food you head to lunch… If you hunger and thirst for righteousness, then you will be about doing good things (hopefully in the name of the Lord). Perhaps an excellent prayer from this blessing is to ask the Lord to teach us to crave goodness.

Then in our quest to be righteous (according to the Bible), we may become righteous (according to the 80’s).

Sorry, I just had to do that one. Let God teach you to hunger and thirst for good things and watch the grace of Christ transform the world around you.

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