By Joe Chesser
Probably when you read the title of this article you thought of Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5.6). Maybe you also thought of the psalm, “As a deer pants for the flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42.1-2). Both of these verses describe someone desperate for food and water. Even if you have never been frantic for food or water, you can still understand what this means.
It is so easy, so common to get caught up in the things of life that have little or nothing to do with our personal hunger for God, and especially panting for God: things like jobs, sports, politics, health, housework, vacations, etc. Even as a preacher it is very easy to get so focused on lesson preparation to teach others, or spending time on church activities, or spending time with my family that I fail to remember to feed my own soul.
There are some very telling signs of a lack of hungering for God:
PRAYER. Mike Ireland wrote: “Perhaps the reason we are not better with prayer is not because we are too busy or we don’t know what to say. Rather, it is that we do not hunger for God, we do not long for Him as He longs for us. What is on God’s heart is not on ours; what matters to Him is not so important to us ... Prayer is a reflection of what we value ... Prayer is a reflection of who we are.” (Living in His Grace, page 305).
SIN. It doesn’t matter what the sin is (lust, lying, jealousy etc.), struggling with sin indicates a failure at hungering for a closeness with God. David recognized that his sin with Bathsheba separated him from God, and it tore his heart apart. He wrote, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit with me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51.10-11). Hungering for the righteousness of God will help us resist sin like nothing else will.
FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD’S PEOPLE. Worshiping God together is God’s idea (Hebrews 10.25). Communing together is God’s idea, and failing to do so makes us spiritually weak (1 Corinthians 11.21-34). Singing to one another is God’s idea to encourage each other as well as to draw is closer to Him (Ephesians 5.19). Praying together, working together, studying together, they all help us satisfy our hunger for God. It is much more difficult to do this all by yourself. Panting for God creates a thirst to be with Him (Psalm 42.1-2), and it also creates a longing for the people of God (1 Thessalonians 3.6). That’s God’s idea to help us be more like Him.
BIBLE STUDY. There is a direct correlation between hungering for God and a hunger for more knowledge of God. A hungry body craves to be fed. A dying body loses it desire for food. Peter said the same thing is true spiritually (1 Peter 2.2). Not having a desire to study the Scriptures is an indication of a dying soul.
What did you think about yourself as you read these words?
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted at email@example.com