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What I Want to Be

Are we fools to aspire to be so much better than we actually are?
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Here’s what I want to be:  Thankful, joyful, thoughtful, peaceful, faithful.  Loving, praising, giving, forgiving.  Patient, gentle, strong, prudent, content.  A sympathetic listener, an active doer, a willing servant.

How about you?  Bet you can come up with some additional ones that I’ve forgotten to mention.

Some of those things I am, to some extent.  Not near enough to be satisfied with.  To my shame I’m the opposite of some of those things, to some extent.

Are we fools to aspire to be so much better than we actually are?

I don’t think so.  Look at the beatitudes.  Especially, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”  Hunger for it.  Thirst for it.  This is strong language.  Picture a man or woman starving and dehydrated, desperate for sustenance.  You don’t hunger and thirst for something you have.  So Jesus is saying we’re actually on the right track, if we have such an intense desire for something we don’t have: righteousness.

You’ve surely read it before, but look again at Romans chapter 4, Paul’s discussion of faith being counted as righteousness.  Because we are not all that we would like to be, we have no righteousness of our own.  If we are in tune with God, that results in the hunger and thirst.  We don’t give up, though—because the hunger and thirst can be satisfied.

Our faith can be counted as righteousness. 

Our faith can be counted as righteousness.  As Paul says, “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”  (Philippians 3:9)

I know you know all this, but shouldn’t we now and then stop to marvel once again?  The full beatitude is, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

What a promise!  The thirsty one is given a drink, Jesus says.  Yet, I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel entirely satisfied.  I know I’m still not what I want to be, I’m still thirsty.  I don’t doubt Jesus’s promise, or the Father’s enormous grace.  But I still wish I was able to be all the things I believe I ought to be.

Paul speaks for all of us when he asks, “Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)  He’s still feeling the thirst too!  He answers his own question:  “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (verse 8)  But for now, he continues to recognize the reality that we aren’t what we want to be.  In the next chapter he writes, “[We] groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (8:23)

Our hunger and thirst for righteousness is satisfied, now, by faith.  Faith in the love, grace, and mercy of the Father and the Lord, which is counted to us as righteousness.  But the whole problem, our inward groaning, will not be solved until the redemption of our bodies.

“For in this hope we were saved.  Now hope that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:24-25)

Patience again.  We’ve come all the way around the circle, back to what I want to be.

Love, Paul


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