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Our Appetites

by Paul Wasilkoff
Photo by Richard Bell on Unsplash
 

A little while ago my family bought some new pets: a pair of budgies. We noticed that they really seemed to enjoy eating millet and tended to avoid the rest of their mixed pellet food. When we purchased stalks of millet and offered the clusters of millet to them they seemed to forget their distrust and/or hostility towards us and happily hopped onto our hand to eat to their fill.

Their appetite for millet led to change in their behaviour. There is a lesson here for us all regarding our appetites. One of the Beatitudes is “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

God granted us an awareness of our needs. When we are hungry  or thirsty we feel weak, light-headed and even hear gurgling sounds emanating from behind our navel. Proverbs 16:26 summarizes our general existence: we work to be paid in order to buy more food. Our appetite drives that cycle. However, this does not mean that being hungry is bad!  We just have to take care we are feeding ourselves what is good for us.

After Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and nights, He was tempted to turn stones into bread. His response was, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Christ didn’t forbid us the necessity of eating; He did highlight our need to have a steady spiritual diet from the Bible.

What about thirst? When Jesus spoke during the Feast in John 7 He declared, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” The living water He referred to is the Holy Spirit. When we attempt to find any substitute for living water we become like ancient Israel who abandoned their Creator and carved broken cisterns incapable of holding any water (Jeremiah 2:13). Only the Holy Spirit can provide a true quenching of our spiritual thirst.

Back to the beatitude, we are to hunger and thirst after righteousness. But whose definition of righteousness are we to use as the standard?

Isaiah 64:6 describes our inherent righteousness as rags; filthy rags, at that. We are grateful to have our unrighteousness cleansed when we repent. Clearly we are incapable of determining righteousness on our own.

Thankfully, God’s word defines righteousness as something simple, but not easy: “Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us” (Deuteronomy 6:25).

It is striking that Jesus admonished His follower to hunger and thirst after righteousness, not about righteousness. We are instructed in James 1:25 that our Christianity must have action. Revelation 19:8 echos this assertion that our knowledge, our faith must be accompanied by action.

What should we then expect as a result of hungering and thirsting after Godly righteousness? When we ask Him and  when we have demonstrated our commitment to Him how does God supply our needs? For an example of the opposite let me share a frustration I have when shopping. Why is it that when we purchase a bag of snacks (chips, popcorn, pretzels, for example) we receive half a bag of snacks and half a bag of air? Plastic condiment jars now have a substantial dimple in the base reducing the amount of goods in the jar. Cereal boxes have the same height and width, but now have a shallower depth. Yet the price remains the same, meaning we pay more per unit than we used to.

Not so with God: “For they shall be filled!” Our Heavenly Father is generous and is displeased by stinginess as seen in Proverbs 11:24-26. Furthermore, Jesus taught that when God gives He gives “good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.”

Each year at the Passover we partake of two symbols: unleavened bread and wine. Do we hunger and thirst for the attributes symbolized by the bread and wine? Are we carefully monitoring our appetites and behaviours? Are we similarly monitoring what we spiritually eat and drink? As we hunger and thirst after righteousness our Father will be sure to fill us accordingly.
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