by Gloria Furman
On the same night that I was helping one of my children who was struggling with gas pains I was reading Thomas Watson’s commentary on the Beatitudes…
And what I read made me laugh so hard that I nearly gave myself a tummy ache!
Earlier that evening my daughter had pushed away her dinner plate saying she couldn’t eat anything because she was full.
Then an hour after bedtime a cry came from the kids’ room. “Moooommyyy, my tummy hurts!” It was time for a warm bubble bath and other home remedies for gas pain.
Then I resumed my reading. This quote is from Watson’s exposition of Matthew 5:6 which says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Men do not hunger after righteousness, because they never felt any emptiness. They are full of their own righteousness (Romans 10:3). …When men are filled with pride, this swelling distemper hinders holy longings. As when the stomach is bloated with air, it spoils the appetite.”
I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was too funny to handle given the events of the evening. That’s when I started laughing.
And I kept reading,
“None [are] so empty of grace as he who thinks he is full. He has most need of righteousness, who least feels the need of it.”
Whoa. Watson’s illustration is so poignant and sadly true. When we’re in the midst of a prideful episode we feel great satisfaction. But in reality we’re just “full of ourselves”—bloated with self-righteousness.
We sense no need for God’s grace because we’re content with our own moral performance.
My husband asked me what was so funny. I said (with tongue in cheek), “Oh, nothing. Just a Puritan talking about how being gassy can remind us of our need for the gospel.”
He smiled. “Aha. That sounds mundane. You should write about it.”
“Ha! Awkward!” I replied.
But maybe that was Watson’s point— our self-righteous pride is the epitome of everything that’s backwards and blundering and disturbing.
We would rather bloat ourselves with grace-less moralism when Jesus invites us to feast on him instead,
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
Jesus will satisfy our hungry souls with himself—forever—when we believe in him!
But if you find yourself grieved because your hunger for righteousness is weak or faint at best, take heart! There is a hunger for Christ, and this hunger proceeds from love. Watson says,
“If you did not love Christ, you could not hunger after him. …Though the pulse beats but weak—it shows there is life. And that weak desires should not be discouraged, there is a promise made to them. ‘A bruised reed he will not break’ (Matthew 12:20). …In case of weakness—look to Christ your High Priest. He is merciful, therefore will bear with your infirmities; he is mighty, therefore [he] will help them.”
And now the next time you’re dealing with a tummy ache you have another opportunity to remember your need for grace.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gloria is from all over the US (mostly Texas). In 2008 she moved to the Middle East with her husband Dave to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai. They have three real kiddos (Aliza, Norah & Judson) who befriended two imaginary children. Gloria enjoys serving the ladies in her community as a doula and thinks pumpkins deserve their own place on the food pyramid.