Do You want Happiness or Righteousness?

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”(Matthew 5:6).

I am thirsty all the time. Perhaps it is because I drink so much coffee or maybe it is because I live in such a hot climate. I satisfy that thirst quickly with filtered, cool water. Jesus is using this common experience to illustrate what our longing to stay in close relationship with our heavenly Father is like. We want it to be repaired quickly. We are taking a walk through life with Him, and it is very uncomfortable when He is not there.

The only problem is that our desire for happiness gets in the way. Hungering after righteousness is a desire to be free from sin in all its forms and in all its manifestations. Seeking happiness instead of righteousness keeps us from experiencing all that is possible in our relationship with God. (See Martyn Lloyd Jones, Sermon On The Mount, p. 79.) Seeking happiness is really self-centeredness. And when we allow that to continue, we notice an intense desire to have something, to do something contrary to the Word of God, or to be in some position or circumstance that God has presently denied us. Satisfying that desire becomes paramount to us. Only it will make us happy; it becomes the focus of our prayers. Self and all its ramifications such as pride, ambition, manipulation, sensitiveness, self-consciousness may work its way out and, unless checked, we are taken over by a panting after something other than being right with God. This seeking after happiness, will never satisfy us like staying in close relationship with our Creator and Savior.

But, remember, our walk with God is not one of two equal persons. How could it be? We are to be poor in spirit, mourning our sin, and being more meek and humble as we contrast God’s character to ours. Faith by itself makes us acceptable to God. But, we cannot just do as we please. We must deny ourselves and turn from all the ways self pops out and shapes our idolatry. Seeing this process of putting aside self, doing what God’s word requires, and desiring to press on toward a closer walk with God gives us that “blessed assurance.” No ritual or spiritual experience or another person can give this assurance to us. Only continuing on in repentance and faith or as Paul said, “…pressing on toward the mark of the high calling of God…” Walking through life thinking about God as our Father and Christ Jesus as our brother, and the Holy Spirit as our strength gives us comfort and joy, but this is never a relationship based on equality where we can just do as we please.

(Remember that hymn “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, for a foretaste of glory divine”? There were other old devotional songs we sang when I was a child, “Just a Closer Walk With Thee; Grant it Jesus is My Plea.” Or “In the Garden” by C. A. Miles. I wish we still sang these songs!)

Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness. Psalm 107:8-9.

For The Children
If you are raising children or enjoying your grandchildren, you know first-hand how easily self shows itself in even the youngest child. Seek to show them the dangers of being self-centered. We are so child-centered today; everything focuses on them. My mother used to tell of how when company came, children ate after the adults. Frequently, the visiting pastor came to dinner and the kids got the left-overs! I don’t recommend this, but it does show us how centered on pleasing the children we have become. A self-centered child will not easily hunger and thirst after doing what is necessary to stay in relationship with God! Don’t gratify their every longing. Don’t jump to buy them whatever they want. Give them opportunities to serve others…even their own brothers and sisters. Don’t try to be their equals. They need to experience a relationship with one who is their superior. You are in charge, though kind and good and thoughtful. Take a walk with them and talk about the delights of knowing God.

Are you thirsty for continuing that walk with God, knowing you will be blessed?

About Carol Brandt

I earned a B.A. in History from Florida State University and M.Ed in.Higher Education from Florida Atlantic University. I taught high school social studies before “retiring” to full-time homemaking and raising two daughters. Now I love being a grandmother to four boys and a girl. I have also raised five collies.

My husband, John, was an optometrist, who worked tirelessly for his profession through private practice and as a consultant, and served on the Board of Trustees of Illinois College of Optometry for twenty years.

Ernest Reisinger was my chief mentor in this warm-hearted application of Calvinism. He gave me many books! The Founders Journal and Founders Conferences, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Charles Spurgeon have been other sources of Reformed thinking as well as the other warm-hearted ones listed in my book, “Warm-hearted Calvinists.”

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