Michael Youssef - Happiness is in You - Part 4
This fourth beatitude is literally smacked in the middle of the series of messages. The beatitudes that Jesus gives on the Sermon on the Mounts are a superstructure. They were not a bunch of blessed are you, blessed are you, that Jesus threw out kind of haphazardly. No. He had them organized. Step one lead to step two leads to step three leads to today's step four, and you're going to find that in Matthew chapter 5, verse 6, Matthew 5: 6. Matthew is the first book in the New Testament. If you go to it, chapter 5, verse 6. And here's what Jesus said: "Blessed, happy, fortunate," in Greek Makarios, "are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied". Not may be satisfied, shall be satisfied, will be satisfied. You have God's word on it.
When Jesus uttered those words, his hearers could easily identify with what he's saying because they know what it is like to have such hunger pain, to have such thirst for water; and to them the smallest amount of food was... and a drop of water is of extreme value. To them food and water was so scarce that they would not waste a crumb of bread or a drop of water. And so when Jesus said, "Blessed, happy, Makarios are you who hunger and thirst," their ears perked up, their ears wanted to hear. You remember they always went after Jesus after he gave them food because there is such hunger, there is such thirst that they understand.
Now, I want you to transfer that hunger pain, I want you to transfer that absolute thirst into the spiritual realm. And so the question is, have you ever felt so desperately in need of more of God that you were willing to do anything; I mean, anything to have more of God in you? And that is why Jesus said if you are looking for happiness, don't look beyond what's inside. Don't go any further than inside. The ancient world experienced so much physical pain of hunger that they valued and they cherished the smallest amount of food or water. In fact, we know from history that Rome itself, Rome itself had experienced such famine back in the year 436 BC. That's before Christ. 436 BC there was such a famine in Rome that thousands of people out of the hunger pain threw themselves in the Tiber river to drown themselves out of that hunger pain.
I am told by the experts that there are four stages to starvation, four stages. First of all, you have irritation. You become so irritable you get easily set off. Then followed by a state of exhaustion. Thirdly, it's followed by deep depression. And finally, fourthly, it follows by stage of physical listlessness. Yet the irony is this. Jesus promised that for that spiritual hunger, for that spiritual thirst, for that hunger and thirst for righteousness you will never die of starvation. In fact, that is the very thing that God is going to fill to overflowing. He will fill, completely satisfy. But listen. If you let yourself spiritually starve or if you try to satisfy that hunger for righteousness that only Jesus can fill; if you try to fill that with fake food, you will go through those four stages. You'll go through them.
Beloved, listen to me. When you and I try to satisfy our deepest longing for God by anything or anyone, we're going to end up in danger of spiritual malnutrition. First you become irritable and you become susceptible to the various temptations. You will lash out at anyone for any reason all the time. You will attack anyone who exhorts you to righteousness. You'll stop going to church or fellowship with other believers. And when you hear the conviction of the Holy Spirit, you become irritable and you resist. You will find the smaller spiritual rebuke sets you off. You will become and blame everyone for everything. "That preacher doesn't preach right. That church doesn't church right. The deacons don't deac right. The ushers don't usher right".
And you can't trust the trustees. Be careful. Be careful. If this is happening to you, watch out. That is the first stage of spiritual starvation, and you need only one thing: more of God. More of God's righteousness. More of God's holiness. More of God's presence. More of God's filling. Now I plead with you, don't feed your hunger on fake food because a steady diet of fake food will lead to malnutrition. You're going to get to the second stage of exhaustion, you're going to get then to the third stage of total depression, and eventually you'll become spiritually listless. All human beings are created by God to hunger for physical food, to thirst for water in order to survive.
If we didn't have that feeling of hunger and thirst, we wouldn't survive as humanity. God created that in us. The new creation that the Holy Spirit created and the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, those who are on their way to heaven; the Redeemer when we become born again of the Spirit of God, he recreated in us spiritual hunger and thirst for righteousness; a deep-felt spiritual hunger for more of God and less of me, a passion inside of our soul that will only be satisfied by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And, beloved, for God's sake please do not try, do not try to fill this need with junk food or poisoned water.
In Colossians 3:1 and 2, Paul said, "Since you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above," not on things below. Let me make a statement. It may surprise some of you; not all of you, but some of you. But it's the truth. To the spiritual person, that is the person who's constantly hungering and thirsting for God, constantly hungering and thirsting for righteousness, to them the supernatural seems as natural. Did you get that? When you're constantly hungering for God, knowing that God will only fill that hunger, the only one who can do that, you're going to discover that living in the supernatural is very natural. Think about this. Think about it for a long time.
Jeremiah warned the people who said they have committed two sins. "They have forsaken me, the source of the living water, and they've began to dig for themselves cisterns, cisterns that cannot hold water". It could not hold water. They dry up even before they finished digging them. Don't try to fill it with the wrong things. The prodigal son kept on filling his stomach with the husk that was fed to the pigs until one day he came to his senses and went home to his daddy, where he got feast after feast. Come home to your daddy. Come home to your daddy. "Blessed, happy, Makarios are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled".
You have Jesus's word on it. Here's something I don't want you to miss, I don't want you to miss. Jesus did not say... I'm going to repeat that. Jesus did not say, "Blessed, happy are those who are full of righteousness". Did you get that? He did not say that. "But those who hunger and those who thirst for righteousness". Question, what is that righteousness that Jesus is talking about here in a beatitude? It's a unique type of righteousness. What is it? What is that kind of righteousness that you and I as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ must hunger and thirst every single day, maybe moment by moment? First of all, I'm going to tell you what this righteousness is not. Okay?
Then I'm going to tell you what it is. I'm going to tell you what it is not. This is not the righteousness... the imputed righteousness. That's why the word imputed. It is given to you. That righteousness that is credited to you. You could not earn it in a million years. It's imputed to you the moment you come to Jesus and ask for salvation, the moment you receive him as your Savior and Lord, he imputes this righteousness on you. He gives it to you as a credit, an unpayable back. It's a credit. It's credited to you. That is the righteousness of Jesus Christ. In fact, it is implied in the first step. "Blessed are the poor in spirit". It's implied. That moment he gives you imputed righteousness.
Why does he give you an imputed righteousness? Because God the Father whose eyes are purer than to look upon sin, he's going to look at you through the prism of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That's the only way God can see you as righteous, that imputed righteousness that Jesus give you. The moment you transfer your hope, the moment you transfer your confidence from your good works, from your good things, from feeling that you are a good person; the moment you transfer that hope from there to the blood of Jesus Christ, he gives you that imputed righteousness; something you could never have in a million years, his righteousness, the righteousness of Jesus. But that's not the righteousness he's talking about here that we hunger and thirst for on a regular basis. It is different righteousness altogether. There's more. It is not even the righteousness of wanting to see the right thing being done.
I think we all to a certain degree want to see the right thing being done. That is seeking to see righteousness. We want to see righteousness in our land. We want to see righteousness in our nation. We want to see justice and fairness. We want to see things done right, but that's not that same righteousness that he's talking about here. Wanting to see things done right is great, but that is not the righteousness that Jesus talks about in the Beatitudes. So what is that righteousness? It is the deep longing for you and me to have more of God and less of us. It is an unseen righteousness. It is a hidden righteousness. It is deeply personal, an intense desire for more of God and less of me.
The righteousness of the Pharisees is what Jesus warns us about in Matthew 23, verse 5. He said, "Don't do this". The righteousness of the Pharisees is an outward righteousness. It is seen by people. It is righteousness for a show. It's show and tell. It is blowing your trumpet so people can hear it, top of righteousness. It is pretentious righteousness. It is filled with smugness and arrogance and haughtiness, and Jesus said that is not the righteousness that you should be looking for. The righteousness that Jesus is talking about here in the Beatitude is when I hunger and thirst in absolute desperation. It's very different from the righteousness of the Pharisees. This is almost unconscious righteousness. It is unpretentious righteousness. It is the kind of righteousness that makes you feel so utterly, completely, totally unworthy of the grace of God.
I want to tell you something that you can take to the bank. The more saintly a person is, the more saintly a person becomes, the greater sinner he or she feels. Take that to the bank. The least worthy you feel, in John chapter 5, verse 44, Jesus rebukes this righteousness of the Pharisees, and he said to them, let me read to you what Jesus said, "How can you believe if you accept praise from one another"? They were patting each other on the back. "You're a good guy". "No, no, no. You're a better guy". "You're a good guy". "No, no, no. You're a good guy. You're a good guy". "No, you're a better guy". He said as long as you're doing this and you make no effort to obtain the praise that comes only from God, you will not be filled. When you live, and you think, and you plan, and you eat, and you drink, and be all about the approval of God, you will be most likely misunderstood even by fellow believers, let alone the world. But you will be misunderstood, I promise you. I know. I'm there. I've been there.
But here's the most amazing thing. It is appreciated by God. It's appreciated by God. It might not be appreciated by your family members. It might not be appreciated by your friends. It might not be appreciated by other members of the church, the believers. He appreciates that hunger and thirst for righteousness. This yearning on the inside, this deep longing that cannot be even verbalized in words, that fire in your bones, this intense desire to please only one person; when you have that ache in your heart for the holiness of Jesus, when your only longing is for him and to please him, when you want to say with Paul in Philippians 3:10, "I want to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering".
When you get to that point, you'll be granted satisfaction by Jesus himself. Jesus promised he will fill that hunger. You have his word on it. Don't miss what I'm going to tell you. This hunger and thirst is not a one soft thing that you've experienced it once in your life when you're going through a crisis. It's not a one-time experience. No, no, no, no, no. No. No. Don't miss this. It is continuous. It's continuous hunger for more and more. So what is that satisfaction? How do you know you've been satisfied with this hunger being satisfied and thirst being satisfied?
I can tell you exactly what it is. It's when you feel deep, deep peace regardless of the viruses and the diseases that plaguing the world. It's deep confidence and trust in him in spite of the infectious fear. It is joy in the midst of the world's confusion. It is the ability to praise and worship and thank him instead of fretting and fearing when you experiencing that incredible pain that comes from starvation, from hunger. The most beautiful flower arrangement in the world will not get your attention. The most magnificent music on the face of the earth is not going to distract you because your attention is on the hunger pain. The most magnificent view of nature, the beauty of nature cannot take your mind off that pain.
When Esau was hungry, was starving, he comes home and for a bowl of soup he sold his most privileged position: his first birth, his birthright. A bowl of soup. Hunger can make you physical hunger, I'm talking about. Oh, but listen. When you hunger and thirst for more of God, nothing else will fill you but God. And so today wherever you are, whatever country you're in, whatever part of the world you're in, whatever time zone you're in, you can say:
Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus, I've ran after other things thinking that they will satisfy me, but they're not. I have looked for satisfaction in all kinds of things and yet they're not satisfying me. I want you. I'm now hungering and thirsting for you. I now know this. I know only you can satisfy my hunger, only you can quench my thirst. I want more of you and less of me.
Beloved, God will answer that prayer. You take his word on it. He will answer it, and he's going to fulfill your deepest longing.