“Your Word Is Truth”
‘Happy Those Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness’
ALL persons on earth might be said to hunger and thirst for one thing or another. Large numbers daily hunger for literal food and drink. Many others have a greedy hunger and thirst for pleasures, for thrills, for excitement. However, can they be said to be truly happy? Is the pursuit of sensual pleasures truly satisfying? Often it is accompanied with pain, as in the case of those who succumb to drug addiction, venereal disease or alcoholism.—Gal. 6:7, 8.
Other persons hunger and thirst for fame; they want to make a name for themselves. Still others have an intense hunger and thirst for material riches. And not a few hunger and thirst for power over their fellowmen in political, commercial or religious spheres. Are those who hunger and thirst for these things happy? Wise King Solomon, who himself had great power and riches, testified that the striving for such things is vanity.—Eccl. 2:1-16.
But there are a hunger and a thirst that do lead their possessors to happiness. There are a hunger and a thirst for righteousness. These are desires that can be properly satisfied. Of this, Jesus said: “Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, since they will be filled.”—Matt. 5:6.
Even as with the first of the happinesses, stated by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, Luke gives an abbreviated version of this happiness: “Happy are you who hunger now, because you will be filled.” (Luke 6:21) Jesus could not have referred to physical hunger or hunger for material things. Why not? Because his remarks were addressed to his disciples. They were not lacking in food or drink, but they were hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Besides, not all who hunger and thirst for material things get filled. Often frustration and even starvation are the lot of these. It is those who hunger and thirst for righteousness who, in accord with what Jesus said, get filled.
How few today, comparatively speaking, hunger and thirst for righteousness! However, as shown by the surrounding verses, the words of Jesus have their primary application to those who are heirs of “the kingdom of the heavens,” those who hope literally to “see God.” (Matt. 5:3, 8) These might be said to hunger and thirst for righteousness in three basic respects and to be happy in that they enjoy a fine condition of well-being because their hunger and thirst are being satisfied.
First of all, they hunger and thirst for righteousness to prevail in themselves. They try as hard as they can to lead righteous lives. With the help of God’s Word, his holy spirit and God’s visible organization they have been set free from willing bondage to sin. While this hunger and thirst of theirs will not be completely filled until they receive perfect bodies in the resurrection, even now they are happy, for, like the apostle Paul, they enjoy good results from applying themselves to have “a consciousness of committing no offense against God and men.”—Acts 24:16; John 8:32; 1 John 3:9.
Secondly, their hunger and thirst for a righteous standing with God is filled. This is because they have exercised faith in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. They therefore can say with the apostle John: “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Yes, these “have been declared righteous as a result of faith” in Jesus’ sacrifice and “by his blood.” What a reason for happiness that is!—1 John 1:7, 9; Rom. 5:1, 9.
These anointed Christians also hunger and thirst for righteousness in another respect, for they hunger and thirst for a kingdom that will cause righteousness to prevail on earth, and so they keep on praying: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” Since fulfillment of Bible prophecies shows that in the very near future they can hope to see God’s will done on earth as in heaven, causing righteousness to prevail throughout God’s universe, they have this added reason to be happy even now.—Matt. 6:9, 10; 24:1–25:46.
As with so many other words of Jesus directed to his footstep followers with whom he has covenanted for a kingdom and who hope to share heavenly glory with him, the principles stated in the happinesses with which Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount also apply to others of his followers whose destiny is an earthly one and to whom he referred as his “other sheep.” Theirs is the hope of an earthly Paradise where they will have their hunger and thirst for righteousness completely fulfilled.—John 10:16.
Those who are in line for this earthly destiny and who are living today were pictured by certain ones whom the ancient prophet Ezekiel saw in a vision. They were ‘sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that were being done in the midst of Jerusalem.’ (Ezek. 9:4) These have a keen love of righteousness and are very distressed, both because of their own sins and shortcomings and because of the gross wickedness that is rampant in the earth today.—Matt. 24:12; 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
Because of their good heart condition Jehovah God hears their sighing and groaning and by means of his Witnesses he helps these to satisfy their hunger and thirst for righteousness. With the help of God’s Word, spirit and visible organization they see their need to repent of their former course of action and convert or turn around to the doing of God’s will. By dedicating themselves to do God’s will and to follow the example set by Jesus, and by getting baptized they acquire a good conscience, even as we read: “That which corresponds to this is also now saving you, namely, baptism, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the request made to God for a good conscience).” This results in happiness.—1 Pet. 3:21; 2:21.
Their hunger and thirst for righteousness is also satisfied in that they have an acceptable standing before Jehovah God. How so? Because by exercising faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice they have “washed their robes and made them white.”—Rev. 7:14.
Even as do Christ’s “brothers” with whom they are associated, they earnestly strive to live righteous lives. They also have firm faith in the early end of this wicked system of things, to be followed by ‘a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness is to dwell.’—2 Pet. 3:10-13; Matt. 25:40.
Both Christ’s brothers and those of the “other sheep” are having their hunger and thirst for righteousness satisfied now in another respect. In the true Christian congregation today the King Jesus Christ ‘is reigning for righteousness itself and princes are ruling for justice itself.’ Jehovah God has appointed in his visible organization ‘peace as overseers and righteousness as task assigners.’—Isa. 32:1; 60:17.