Man’s Four Hungers

imagesIn his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Blessed—happy—satisfied—whole—are those who hunger and thirst for his righteousness, for they will be filled. This sounds like good news to me! Don’t we all want to be blessed, happy, satisfied, and whole? Surely we all long for such a blessed state of affairs. But then why are so many today broken, fragmented, cracked, and potted?

While we all long to be blessed, we don’t all long for righteousness. Why not? Well, for starters, we like to be in control and that doesn’t usually work out in the end. More to the point, however, I think we are all too easily satisfied. As Peter Kreeft nicely puts it in his excellent little book Back to Virtue, there are four hungers of the human heart. If we settle, if we cease paying attention after some of our baser needs are met, we will not feel the pangs of hunger for something more. And we will not be blessed/happy/whole.

So, what are these four hungers of the human heart?

Physical hunger. We hunger for food and drink and do so every day. We could not survive without these basic needs for very long. This is a hunger we share with lower creation as well. Add to this some of our basic needs for shelter and clothes and a few toys and many will rest satisfied, dubbing the possession of such things as a state of blessedness. Still the cracks remain, even if plastered over with food and drink and the luxuries that money buys. Listen . . . and we’ll find another hunger deeper in:

The hunger for truth, goodness, and beauty. As Aristotle put it, all men desire to know. As prophets and moralists cry out, we all desire to experience happiness—goodness—in a world gone wrong. As poets and artists demonstrate, we all long for a beauty that captivates. We hunger, as Kreeft puts it, for the effect or gift that is truth, goodness, and beauty. Often we find the gift and seek asking questions about the giver behind the gift. But, if we push through and pay attention, we will find our third hunger:

Spiritual hunger for God. We hunger for the source of truth, goodness, and beauty—we hunger for righteousness. We follow Plato out of the cave and seek the light of the sun, and in seeking, we find the Son. And in finding the Son, we are captured by a fourth hunger:

God’s hunger for us. God hungers and thirsts for people to enter his Kingdom—to be lovers of others who spend and not take, who give instead of getting.

This is the paradoxical nature of faith—in order to find your life, you must lose it; in order to be blessed, you must give; in order to be filled with righteousness, you must spend your life following after the Son.

Be the hands and feet of God to a hungry world.

Spend your life.

Be filled.

And be blessed.















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