O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes. But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped. (Psalms 63:1-11)
When was the last time you can truthfully say you longed after the Almighty? Does it compare to what King David wrote in the above Psalm? Think about it just for a few minutes before you continue to read this article. Reflect honestly on your desire, your longing, your thirsting, your deep continual need to be refreshed from the living waters that only comes from he who is the Word, embodied as the Son of God, your Messiah, your fortress, your redeemer, your King. The next thing that I am going to write is probably one of the most important principles that very few Christians even come close to knowing or understanding. It is powerful and once you grasp the depth, and significance of it, your spirit will never be the same.
If you are not longing and desiring him in this passionate way, then you have satisfied your longings and desires at the watering troughs of the world. We are divinely and instinctively created to long and be fulfilled and in this we have no choice. The only choice we have is in what we satisfy this longing with. It is either Him, or it's the world.
The longing of our spirit is designed by God the creator to be mysteriously filled in such a way that even though we find we are refreshingly fulfilled by drinking from the living waters we also find we continue to desire more. It is one of the mysteries of our Creator that we as humans can not truly understand. On a human level we are able to stop the longings and desire temporarily through those things the world can gratify us in. Mankind is created in such a way that all desires, whether human or spiritual, must continue to be filled. Spiritually it is similar yet completely different, and this is the mystery of drinking from the well of living waters that most Christians do not understand. If we do not long, then we have been temporarily filled. Our natural bodies are an unending cycle and experience of filling our longings and desires from the moment we take our first breath, to our very last. Whether it be for food, breath, companionship, pleasure, wealth, power, recognition, etc. Solomon writes about the futility of life under the sun in Ecclesiastes.
All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (...) That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. (Ecclesiastes 1:8, 9, 15, KJV).
Towards the beginning of Jesus' ministry on earth we have the account of him and the woman at the well recorded in the book of John.
He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. (John 4:3-26)
Not only do we find that Jesus understood the eternal principle of where our true source of fulfillment comes from he also declared to the sinner woman that he was the source even though he himself was looking to be refreshed by a natural drink from the well. Much of the story is lost when we forget that Jesus was actually looking to satisfy his natural thirst this particular day when he stopped and met the woman at the well. We see a glimpse of the practical balance of his natural needs against the eternal truths of drinking from the well of living waters coming to dominate the discussion. There is an real element of truth here that we can see that God is his creative understanding knows we have natural needs that are pleasing to him to be fulfilled, yet they take second place to the eternal spiritual need that we have.
Most people have never understood the inter relationship of the two. In most affluent countries we as believers have lost focus on our eternal need for the living waters supplanting it with constantly trying to gratify our spiritual longings with natural pleasures and causes. For the carnal Christian we see the lackluster results of this desire of fulfillment through the pursuit of riches and possessions, sinful entertainment, vulgar and crude conversations, lack of modesty both in dress and deed etc., rife with broken relationships and families just to name a few.
Many times for the more serious Christian these longings are gratified through noble human "causes" that we believe are important to support or even engage in because we have been given resources and a political voice to bring results that we feel would be pleasing to God. This would include such things as activism on behalf of environmentalism, equality, human rights, education, supporting or ending wars etc. On the surface it appears that the good results or potential for change is something we should aspire to, all the while being deceived in our hearts and minds what spiritual fruit must look like.
Nothing of what I mentioned above has in of itself eternal fulfilling results. Governments come and go. Cultures change. Economic & business models and practices continuously adapt and adjust to suit the desires of the powerful, and the story goes on. Most of all we all die and even the greatest legacy one may leave eventually is forgotten, ignored, or even challenged. History seems to always be re-written, yet nothing ever changes under the sun just as we read from Solomon.
If we are truly honest with ourselves can we truthfully say we are longing and thirsting after Him and his righteousness, or are we simply being selfish? Is our desire to take up our cross daily, or is it to selfishly impose Heavenly Kingdom principles onto worldly governments and communities to actually better our own lives? Remember Satan is the great imposter, the deceiver, the rebellious one, eager to give us elements of partial truth so we will believe and live a lie.
So now before we go any further lets look further into what scripture says in regards to longing and thirsting.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. (John 6:32-39)
One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. (Psalms 27:4)
O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; (Psalms 63:1)
Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. (Psalms 73:25-28)
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)
And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. (Revelation 21:6)
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)
So now that we see that God is serious about us longing after him what is theractical application of this in our lives? Jesus continues with the meeting of the woman at the well with the following words.
Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. (John 4:34-36)
We see that Jesus returns to his most common theme of bearing fruit. So what is the fruit?
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:11)
Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) (2 Corinthians 9:10)
Are we truly pursuing the fruits of righteousness or are we trying to cloak our good deeds of human nobility as acts of righteousness when they are actually truly acts of self righteousness? If they are the fruits of righteousness they will bear the exact same fruits as what we see and are taught by our Lord and the Apostles.
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:31-34)
For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:3)
For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:4-11)
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. (1 Timothy 6:11)
In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (1 John 3:10)
Our faith in Christ is enacted through bearing fruits of righteousness. We must bear fruit. It is simply not enough to sit back and be spiritually lazy and to say that simply because we believe we are children of God. Neither is it sufficient to declare before the throne our own temporal acts of worldly righteousness as if they measured up to the eternal fruits of righteousness. We can be assured that they are eternal if they bear the fruit of what Jesus taught us in Matthew chapters 5 through 7. We can be assured they are fruits of righteousness when our longing and thirsting is for living as Jesus commanded, through obedience. Are we looking for ways to satisfy our longings and desires that mimic righteousness, ways that we can tailor to fit our comfort level, or are we truly drinking from the well of living waters? Once we drink from the well of living water we will see the well spring of His righteousness begin to bear fruit in us. There will not be causes or agendas that we pursue that our intellect and instincts tell us will produce fruit.
Do we still have temporal and natural needs that God expects us to meet? Of course but they will always be put into the context of their temporal nature, never taking priority over the eternal longing for his righteousness and actually bearing testimony of it in our lives. It is this longing that allowed the saints of old to bear much persecution with joy. They were beacon's on a hill of God's righteousness where men of worldly authority were unable to place justified blame at their feet in order to try to extinguish the power of God's sovereignty and silence the voice of His truth. In closing I would like to have us look at one last set of verses to encourage us to flee the illusion that we can pursue righteous acts in of themselves without actually drinking from the well of living water that produces the true fruits of righteousness.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (2 Timothy 2:15-26)
I trust that this short exploration of what we have read regarding longing and thirsting helps us better understand what our Lord was referring to when he said the following sayings:
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)
It is my prayer that we will once again begin to long and thirst after his righteousness in a way that once again touches the world like the church of old, finding us faultless before the thrones of both God and men.