Jesus Did Not Say That He Will Fill Us With Righteousness


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matt. 5: 6-8)

Just as we learned yesterday, these three statements are connected because they are all part of the second chiasm; (you will understand if you read yesterday’s post).

The problem with understanding this chiasm is that we westerners do not understand what righteousness is. O we love the word because it sounds so “holy” but from our perspective it is abstract and therefore we can’t connect it with action.

Hebrews thought, expressed in their language, in terms of action. They experienced life through their senses. Abstract words meant nothing to them. So then, what is righteousness? Throughout the Old Testament, the word “righteousness” is used interchangeably with “generosity”. Here are a few examples:

The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously. (Psa. 37: 21)

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing. (Psa. 37: 25-26)

Righteousness, then, is doing the right thing i.e., doing what God would do in every situation. God’s attitude towards people is always to be generous and to show mercy, therefore, to hunger and thirst for righteousness really means to be passionate about being generous towards people in need, not only with our resources but with our attitudes and behaviour.

With what then, will we be filled? Not with righteousness but with what we gave away. In the original, the meaning is “herbage”. In other words, God will fill us with whatever we gave away. God always responds to our generosity by multiplying what we give away. Consider these words of Jesus:

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6: 38)

Because we are dealing with a chiasm, we must first look at the corresponding statement at the end of the chiasm, and then consider the central thought.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Of course we will have no idea what this means if we try to interpret it literally. How is it possible to “see” God when He is spirit? The Hebrews had a word, zikkut, for the kind of generosity that goes beyond what is expected. Every Hebrew person had a duty to give a percentage of his income away – 20% to be exact. A part of his duty was to bring, every third year, the tithe that was meant for his family to enjoy, to the “storehouse” – the tabernacle or temple – for the poor, the widow, the orphan and the alien. This was the least he could do to support the needy.

Anything he did to meet the needs of others above his duty was regarded as zikkut. It was this kind of generosity, based on an understanding of, and in gratitude to God for His generosity, that gave the giver an insight into the heart of God. He was able to “see” God with the eyes of a greater understanding than just doing his duty. His heart was “pure”, unmixed with selfishness, putting God and others first, which enabled him to experience God more intimately than those who just did their duty.

It is this kind of attitude that constitutes hunger and thirst for righteousness. These are the people who will experience the abundance of God’s generosity because He can trust them not to consume what He gives on themselves,  but share it with those in need.

The central thought of this chiasm is mercy. God revealed to Moses, in response to his request (Ex. 33: 18-19), that the weightiest part of His name – His character – is mercy. God’s mercy has been fully revealed in His Son. Jesus’ death on the cross was the pinnacle of God’s mercy and should be the motivation for all our deeds of “righteousness”. We show mercy to others, not because we are benevolent but because of His mercy to us.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James. 2: 12-13)

The bottom line is: when we understand the magnitude of God’s mercy, we cannot help but be generous towards others. Then we will be the recipients of God’s abundant generosity towards us with all the material things we need.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  (Matt. 6: 31-33)

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Luella Campbell

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