Back

LESSON 5 - THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST (MATTHEW 5:6)

Copr. 1998, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984
International Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations
from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes
the teacher uses a blackboard.

INTRODUCTION: This week our study is Matthew 5:6.  Do you dream of
being hungry and thirsty? Is this a goal in your life? This week we
learn from Jesus of a hunger and thirst that we should desire to
become part of our life.
 

I. HUNGER AND THIRST: A GOAL?

     A. Imagine a person who is hungry and thirsty all the time.
     What immediate assumptions come to mind about this person?

          1. Would this person have a job?

          2. Would this person be respected in the community?

          3. Can you imagine yourself in such a situation?

               a. What would cause you to enter such a situation?

          4. Could you describe this person in one word?
          (Desperate. Normally, you think that a person in this
          situation either has a major character flaw or some
          terrible circumstance has overtaken him.)

          5. What is the goal of a person who is hungry and
          thirsty? (To be fed.  To drink.)

               a. When a person is hungry or thirsty, how high on
               his list of priorities is satisfying this hunger
               and thirst? (Top priority.)

     B. Turn with me to Matthew 5:6. Read.  What is the good news
     for those who "hunger and thirst for righteousness?" (They
     will be filled. Their goal will be met!)

     C. Do you remember that we learned that "blessed" means
     "happy" or "fortunate?" How can those who are hungry and
     thirsty be fortunate? Didn't you just tell me that someone in
     this state has a character flaw or has been overtaken by
     terrible circumstances?

     D. Is it a character flaw not to hunger and thirst for
     righteousness?

          1. Is it possible to be "filled" with righteousness if
          you do not hunger and thirst for it? (Jesus tells us in
          Matthew 5:20 that unless our righteousness exceeds that
          of the scribes and pharisees we will not enter the
          kingdom of heaven.  In Matthew 6:33 He tells us to "seek
          first His kingdom and His righteousness." You bet it is
          a goal to hunger and thirst for righteousness! If we do
          not, it seems unlikely that we will be filled.)

          2. Is being hungry and thirsting for righteousness a top
          priority of your life?  Like actual hunger and thirst
          would be?

     E. Jesus could have used any parallel He wanted to describe
     our attitude towards righteousness.  He could have said,
     "Blessed are those who run after righteousness, for they will
     catch it."  "Blessed are those who hunt for righteousness, for
     they will bag it." Why do you think Jesus used the term
     "hunger and thirst for righteousness" as opposed to any other
     parallel?

          1. What does this tell us about the importance of
          righteousness? (Eating and drinking are absolutely
          necessary to life.  I think Jesus used the words "hunger
          and thirst" to convey to us the extreme importance of
          righteousness in our life.)

          2. How do you learn to be hungry when you have not eaten?
          (No one has to teach you this, it is natural.)

               a. Is that also true with righteousness?  That we
               have a natural hunger for it?

                    (1) Why or why not?

     F. In Genesis 2:15-17 we find that God tells Adam and Eve that
     they must not eat from a certain tree in the Garden of Eden.
     (Technically, Eve missed that lesson (v.18). But I'm sure Adam
     filled her in on the details later.)  In Genesis 3:1-6 we find
     Satan tempting Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Is it just a
     coincidence that food was the underlying instrument for the
     entry of the sin problem into our world?

          1. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 we are told to remember
          Jesus' victory over the sin problem in our world by
          eating and drinking.  Is it just a coincidence that food
          is the underlying instrument to remember the sin problem
          in our world has been overcome? (This is no coincidence.
          The lesson in this is that we do not live or die over our
          abstract theology.  There is a common expression, "the
          devil is in the details." Here, the "devil" is in daily
          living, and not the "details." Our interpretation of the
          details of the sanctuary doctrine, our understanding of
          every nook and cranny of prophecy will not be the
          standard by which our lives are judged. We will be judged
          on our basic day to day living.  Whether we looked to God
          for direction and trusted God for deliverance in the
          every day matters of life. Learning God's principles at
          church does nothing to save us if they do not become a
          part of our living at work Monday morning.)

II. HUNGER AND THIRST: AN ATTAINABLE GOAL?

     A. Will someone read Romans 3:10?  Are we stopped? Are we
     stumped?  Are we at a dead end? Just after we decided that to
     hunger and thirst for righteousness was a goal, we now learn
     from Paul that "no one [is] righteous!" It is an impossible
     goal!

          1. Paul tells us that he did not think this up on his
          own. He says, "As it is written...."  Turn with me to
          Psalms 14:1-3. (See also Psalms 53:1-3.) Read.

               a. What does the Psalmist suggest is wrong with
               people? (Verse 2: They do not seek God. Verse 2:
               They do not understand God. Verse 1: They do not
               even believe God exists. As a result all they do is
               evil.)

               b. Is that us? Does that describe you? Does that
               describe me? If you look at your life on Monday
               morning, are you involved in evil?

               c. When Paul said, "As it is written: ... no one
               [is] righteous...." do you think he talking about
               this text in Psalms?  Was he talking about you, me,
               us?

     B. Perhaps we have to understand what God means by
     "righteousness," and how He expects us to obtain it, before we
     can go any further in our discussion.

III. WHAT IS "RIGHTEOUSNESS?"

     A. What do you think is meant by "righteousness?"

     B. Is righteousness a desire to obey God?

          1. Will someone read Galatians 2:21?

          2. Does this say that we cannot become righteous by
          obeying the law? (Yes.)

               a. If we cannot become righteous by obeying, is our
               desire to obey also irrelevant to righteousness?

     C. Turn with me to Romans 10. Read vv. 1-3. Is Paul saying
     that the Israelites desired to obey God? (Yes. v.2 "I can
     testify about them that they are zealous for God....")

          1. What was the problem? (They lacked knowledge. They did
          not have the correct definition of righteousness.  They
          got the wrong answer on the very issue we are
          discussing!)

          2. What did this lack of knowledge cause the Israelites
          to try to do? (Two things. They decided to:

               a. (v.3) establish their own righteousness; and,

               b. (v.3) not submit to God's righteousness.  Sounds
               like we need to get the definition of righteousness
               right!)

     D. Let's read on. Read Romans 10:4-11. What righteousness did
     the Israelites attempt to establish on their own? (Verse 5,
     keeping the law.)

          1. What does Paul mean when he says in vv. 6-7 who will
          ascend to heaven or descend to the deep to bring Christ
          up from the dead? (This is a practical explanation why
          our righteousness (keeping the law) will never be
          sufficient.  We cannot, by keeping the law, deserve to go
          to heaven and bring Jesus down as our Messiah. We cannot,
          by keeping the law, deserve to raise Jesus from the dead!
          Our works are just too puny to do these things that Jesus
          did for us by coming down from heaven, living a perfect
          life, dying in our place and rising from the grave!)

     E. What, then, do you understand to be righteousness? (Christ
     is the definition of righteousness. He is righteous, we are
     not.)

     F. Can we obtain righteousness? If so, how? (Romans 10:9 "If
     you confess with your mouth `Jesus is Lord,' and believe in
     your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be
     saved!"  That is righteousness by faith in Jesus' sacrifice
     and completed work on our behalf!)

          1. Notice again v.3. The Jews lost out because they did
          not submit to God's righteousness. How do we submit to
          righteousness by faith?

          2. Remember we started this section by asking whether
          righteousness is a desire to obey God?  Is a desire to
          obey God the same as submitting to His righteousness?
          (Submission refers to an attitude. We are not rebelling
          against God's law. And, we are not rebelling against His
          completed work by thinking we can do it ourselves.
          Instead, we have the attitude that we desire to obey Him,
          but realize (because of the law) our sinfulness and
          recognize that our only hope is justification through
          Christ's grace. (Romans 3:20-28))

     G. Remember that we decided that Jesus compared the issue of
     righteousness with food?  That He wanted us to understand that
     this was a "daily living issue?"  Do you, when facing daily
     difficulties, confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that He
     has overcome sin and the grave? (Romans 10:9)

          1. Is your emotional attachment to this idea at the
          "hunger and thirst" level?  If so, you are blessed!

IV. NEXT WEEK: THE MERCIFUL. Study Matthew 5:7!