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March 8—Lent Devotional 2013

As you read and reflect on today’s beatitude, please listen to this track from contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. We will feature this track throughout Lent.

The Beatitudes

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Matthew 5:6

When Abraham Lincoln was President, he read the Bible every morning after getting out of bed. One day Lincoln said: “I’ve been reading the beatitudes, and can at least claim one of the blessings therein unfolded: it is the blessing pronounced on those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Here is a blessing that any one of us can claim: the blessing of hungering and thirsting for righteousness.

It would be helpful here to draw a distinction between the two kinds of righteousness spoken of in the Bible. There is Imputed Righteousness and Moral Righteousness. Imputed Righteousness is the righteousness of Christ that God imputes, reckons, or puts to our account when we trust in Christ as Savior. Moral Righteousness is living the kind of life that pleases God; it is living in right relation to God and to others.

Theologians would say that Imputed Righteousness has to do with our Justification, and Moral Righteousness has to do with our Sanctification. This beatitude is about the blessedness of longing to live rightly now (Moral Righteousness).

Greek grammarians like to point out that “hunger” and “thirst” are present participles, which would denote a continuous, ongoing hunger and thirst for right living. This hunger and thirst for righteousness is filled but never satisfied. The blessed always long for more and more of the life God intends for them.

As a hospital chaplain I learned to ask about a patient’s appetite, and to pay attention to the patient who hadn’t touched his food. Having no appetite is troubling to a hospital staff, as it isn’t a sign of good health. As a pastor and spiritual director I am likewise concerned about a lack of spiritual appetite. Sometimes even people active in their churches have little hunger for God. I pray for them as I pray for me: “Lord, give me the grace to ever hunger and thirst for more of You!” 


“O God, you are my God,
I seek you, my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and
weary land where there is no water.”—Psalm 63:1 

  • On a scale of 0-10, how would you rate your spiritual appetite?
  • Why this rating?
  • Pray: “O God I have tasted Thy goodness and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.” (A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God).
  • What do you want To Say To God?

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