Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness
Thursday of Epiphany 3
24 January 2019
Despair is a great vice. There are lots of things about which to despair in our modern world. We all have the strong feeling that things are not getting any better but worse. For example, we have QLED TVs (aren't they great!) that now can show the moral filth on the airwaves in sharper detail than ever before. The forces of immorality seem to be winning the PR battle to cloak evil behavior under the seemingly innocuous term, "tolerance." The "rat race" just feels harder and harder to run. I have gained some sympathy for the character played by Michael Douglas in the movie, "Falling Down," who succumbs to despair. People today are "cocooning;" seeking a way to flee every day life by hiding in their homes and avoiding social contact with all its messy and threatening aspects. Christians are under direct attack now, just because they are Christians.
If we are hungering and thirsting after righteousness this despair will not do. Yes, things look worse and I can't do anything about it. But God doesn't expect us to change things, only He can do this in his own time and in his own way. So we are expected only to keep fighting and let God do the winning. Let us not become weary and stop fighting, for we have a God who is our fortress and strength. Let us not stop being those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, no matter how much the world hates us. Our Lord too was hated by the world because He hungered and thirsted for righteousness. Should it be any different for us?

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"It is painful to see how shamefully people behave, and to get no reward for pure kindness except ingratitude, contempt, hate, and persecution. For this reason, many people who could not stand the sight of such evil conduct finally despaired over it, ran away from human society into the desert, and became monks, so that the saying has repeatedly been verified: 'Despair makes a man a monk.' A person may despair of the world and not trust himself in it, either to remain pious or to help people.
"But this is not hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Anyone who tries to preach or rule in such a way that he lets himself become tired and impatient and be chased into a corner will not be of much help to other people. The command to you is not to crawl into a corner or into the desert, but to run out, if that is where you have been, and to offer your hands and your feet and your whole body, and to wager everything you have and can do. You should be the kind of man who is firm in the face of firmness, who will not let himself be frightened off or dumbfounded or overcome by the world's ingratitude or malice, who will always hold on and push with all the might he can summon. In summary, the ministry requires a hunger and thirst for righteousness that can never be curbed or stopped or sated, one that looks for nothing and cares for nothing except the accomplishment and maintenance of the right, despising everything that hinders this end. If you cannot make the world completely pious, then do what you can. It is enough that you have done your duty and have helped a few, even if there be only one or two. If others will not follow, then in God's name let them go. You must not run away because of the wicked, but rather conclude: 'I did not undertake this for their sakes, and I shall not drop it for their sakes. Eventually some of them might come around; at least there might be fewer of them, and they may improve a little'."

Martin Luther, Sermon on the Mount, 5.6
Psalm 52

Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day. Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit. You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.

But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. The righteous shall see and fear, and shall laugh at him, saying, "See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!"

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly. 
Come, Lord Jesus and save us from this present evil world. Grant us to live in faith until You return that we might not fall into the vice of despair. Amen.
For Marie Hoyer, who has had a stroke, that the Lord Jesus would give her a full recovery
For those who are battling with despair, that the Lord of all hopefulness would encourage them in the gifts of faith
For the people of Venezuela, that they might recover a free society
Art: Paolo VERONESE, The Wedding of Cana (1562-63)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2019
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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