I can relate to human hunger, not on the same level as someone starving in a third-world country, but I know what it feels like. My stomach almost seems to be talking to me and my mind is preoccupied with food. However, to “live is Christ” isn’t about this kind of hunger.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. (Matthew 5:6–8)The first challenge of the new year is about the deepest desires of my heart. What do I want the most? What should be on my “I want” list for this year?
I can think of many things that I want for others. I would like to see my unsaved family members come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I would like to see the end of evil and conflict in the world — who wouldn’t? I would also like to polish off my to-do list, which so easily grows and grows.
But if I am taking the challenge of Philippians 1:21 seriously — “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” — then I must consider what would be the deepest desire of my heart in that light? What did Jesus hunger for in a spiritual sense? What did He want that was internal and eternal?
Obviously, it was righteousness. No matter what He said or did, no matter what people threw at Him, He determined to do the will of His Father. His deepest desire was always to please God, to be righteous. Even the temptation in the wilderness, where Satan used great hunger as a hook to tempt Jesus to make bread out of stones, Jesus showed that His physical hunger had no bearing on His actions.
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)To live like Christ, my deepest desire must become that same desire — to live by the Word of God, to be righteous, to want righteousness more than food.
After eating in restaurants since last Monday lunch, I might be more motivated today than I will be later. I know all about those struggles to drop the desire for food that my body does not need. Yet I am thinking that every time the temptation to overindulge hits me, this is a good reminder that “to live is Christ” means wanting righteousness even more than I want a dollop of whipped cream on an already too-rich dessert, or even an extra slice of bread.