The haunting questions I am asking myself are, Do I really want to be a righteous man? Do I truly hunger and thirst for righteousness? Or do I simply want the benefits of being righteous; benefits such as peace, stability, fulfillment, a meaningful ministry, the love and respect of others, etc? When Jesus spoke of hungering and thirsting for righteousness, he was talking about spiritual desperation. A starving person has a single, all-consuming passion for food and water. Nothing else has the slightest attraction or appeal. Nothing else can get his attention. Everything else pales in comparison.
Certainly Paul possessed that consuming desire for righteousness: But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (Phil. 3:7-9) (See. Psa. 42:1; 63:1; 84:2) The question is, do I share his passion?
Jesus makes this offer to us for our parched souls, Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (Jn. 4:13) God not only invites us to drink of his thirst-quenching water, but he also implores us to not waste ourselves in the futile pursuit of that which cannot satisfy: "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. (Isa. 55:1, 2) (See Isa. 44:3, 20)
The raucous, self-indulgent marketplace is fraught with seductive forces that would kill your quest for righteousness. Little wonder then that Paul expressed deep concern for the believers in the self-gratifying commercial center of Corinth, I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Cor. 11:3) It seems to me that Satan uses the marketplace environment to allure us in three key areas:
The lust for power: After all, isnt power the name of the game in the marketplace? Whos the top dog? Whos the king-maker? Who controls the most people? Who dominates the market share, etc.? Lets admit that we love the dizzying toxin of power. Of running the show. Of exercising authority over others. Heady stuff, to be sure. The problem is that its a bit difficult to hunger and thirst for righteousness while jockeying and politicking our way up the ladder. Thats because the lust for power and control is fundamentally the life of self, often expressed in the phrase, I will. Observe Satans willful challenge for the power that belonged only to God: You [Satan] said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. (Isa. 14:13, 14) (See Jms. 4:13-16)
The lust for praise: Oooh how we love the applause, the titles, the perks, the bowing and scraping. I just got off the phone with Jim, a mega-gifted individual who is quietly serving Christ in an out of the way part of the world among the truly poor and uneducated. During our conversation he said something about seeking obscurity. By way of contrast, Jesus made this observation about a praise-conscious group of wanna be believers, They loved praise from men more than praise from God. (Jn. 12:43) Its a bit difficult to hunger and thirst for righteousness when you are consumed with garnering mens praise.
The lust for pleasure: King Solomon, who had both the means and opportunity to indulge in a pleasure-centered lifestyle, mused in his waning years, I thought in my heart, Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure And his conclusion as to its value? Meaningless, a chasing after the wind. (Ecc. 2:1a, c,10, 26) (See Lk. 12:16-21; 1 Pet. 2:11)
QUESITON: If you are gut honest, just where does your primary passion really lie? To be truly righteous? Or to immerse yourself in the futile pursuit for power, praise and pleasure?