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I’ll Die if I Don’t

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:

We all know what it’s like to be hungry for food or thirsty for drink. These pangs and cravings are part of the body’s miraculous early warning system about the essential things we need for survival. When you begin to experience hunger or thirst, you are as they say, “on the clock.” Without water the survival clock expires after three days and without food the clock expires after a few weeks. Food and drink are not “I wish-I-hads.” They are instead “I’ll-die-withouts.”

Jesus borrows from these familiar experiences to introduce us to the form of blessing that comes from craving righteousness. And what is this righteousness? Think of it as living a life that is pleasing to God. It is a life that consists of doing the right thing. Jesus is referring, then, to a person who declares, “I’ll die if I can’t find a way to please God and do what’s right.”

Surprisingly Jesus does not promise blessedness to those who are already doing the right thing, but rather to those who aren’t, but long to. My brother-in-law, Dave Rock, is a muralist. He was painting once in Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. My wife, Terri and I sat on inverted buckets and watched as, with sweeping strokes of his airbrush, he drew a jungle village out of the wall. I was mesmerized and asked after a while, “How do you do that?” He wrinkled up his face for a moment as he considered the question and then he answered, “I guess the secret of painting is putting the right color in the right place.” Of course it is. But it’s much easier said than done.

The Bible is full of lists of righteous qualities that are pleasing in God’s sight—for example, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and love (Col. 3:12-13). Think of these as individual paints on a painter’s palette. Learning to live rightly involves mixing and applying these God-pleasing qualities in the course of everyday life. No one knows more than Jesus how supremely difficult this is. Jesus promises the blessing of his presence to those who in their brokenness and weakness nevertheless say, “I’ll die if I can’t find a way to please God and do what’s right.”

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Describe what it feels like when, in knowing the right thing to do, you do the wrong anyway. On the other hand, how do you feel when, no matter how hard it is, you do the right thing? What would the circumstance need to be for you to be starving to do the right thing in God’s sight?

PRAYER: Gracious God, you love me and therefore you have made me free because love doesn’t insist on its own way. But this freedom adds layers of difficulty to my life. I am free to do whatever I like, but many of the things that I think I’d like taste sour when I try them. Shape my appetites. Teach me to be hungry for that which not only turns out to be good for me and those around me, but also pleasing to you. Amen.

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Dave Peterson is an ordained pastor who is the Director of Community Outreach for The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and Scholarly Advisor for the H. E. Butt Family Foundation. He is the author of Receiving and Giving, Unleashing the Bless Challenge in Your Life. Dave and his wife, Terri, have four adult children and four grandchildren. Send a note to Dave.

All Things New

Every now and then, you notice it. You recognize the world in which we live is not quite living up to its potential. In the midst of the every day, tiny reminders creep through to reorient us to the truth that this world is not our home. Tainted by the Fall, all of creation yearns for the restoration of all things. We navigate the heartbreaks and the disappointments amid celebration and triumph. We wonder how to tackle injustice while we journal lists of gratitude and thanksgiving. Through it all, God is making all things new, just as he promised. He invites us to join him in the process. What might you contribute through your work and life while you journey through this one life you’ve been given? As a follower of Christ, what role might you be invited to play as God makes all things new? What difference does your vocation make in the work of restoration and redemption? Join the conversation in the series, All Things New.

Featured image by Tormod Ulsberg. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.

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