The imperative of spiritual hunger

open-uri20120816-27036-gc5u7zProverbs 16:26: A worker’s appetite works for him, for his hunger urges him on

What can you do about hunger except look for a way to meet the need it expresses? The bible says we should (strongly) desire the sincere milk of the word of God that we may be able to grow thereby (1Peter 2:2). For the little baby, it is a matter of life and death as far as what is needed for his/her growth is concerned. There is a crying out for the milk.

You cannot argue with hunger. There is a proverb in my native language- Yoruba, that when hunger comes, no other visitor can be received, it takes precedent over every other thing. There cannot be sustainable growth in the absence of hunger and spiritual growth is not an exception.

The level of your hunger for God is determined by your valuation of him.
One of the parables of the kingdom that Jesus told his disciples was concerning a merchant, who found a pearl of great price and sold all he had to have it (Matthew 13:45-46). The fact that person was a merchant was instructive. It means he is able to identify what is precious. Many cannot. They embrace the ephemeral in the place of the eternal. But what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul (Mark 8:36)?

What we should pursue is to add spiritual value to our soul. What can you give for it; what can you give up for the pearl of great price? Do you recognise the place of God in your life and how laying emphasis on that is the best you can do? What is your priority? How do you prioritise the spiritual?

The bible says that what is seen (obvious) is temporal but what is not seen is eternal (2Corinthians 4:18). That merchant can recognise what is not obvious about that piece of “stone.” As it is written the stone the builders rejected has become the head of the corner (Matthew 21:42).

Mary and Martha were an example of spiritually valuation and hunger. Mary was hungry for truth and would commit her time to sitting at the feet of Jesus at the risk of displeasing her sister (Luke 10:38-42). One of the signs of spiritual hunger is that you act, not caring what people think. You are ready to pay the price, give it what it takes. Even Jesus said that if you don’t “hate” your father mother and your relatives you cannot be his disciple (Luke 14:25-34); i.e. you have such hunger for him and his things that nothing can stand in your way.

Whatever you seek is as a result of your hunger for it. Whatever you may you want, the test of the strength of that desire is how much opposition you can overcome on your way there. Jacob as an example wanted to marry Rachel, and was willing to devote seven years of his life to get her, devoting time energy and skill; even when that did not happen after the first seven years, he was not going to be deterred but would go on to devote the next seven years to get her. What can you give to get God?

Throughout the live of Jacob, we see this mark of hunger, though not ethically expressed sometimes. When his brother, Esau was hungry for food, he was hungry for the spiritual/intangible value of getting the birthright. The scriptures concluded that Esau despised the birthright (Genesis 25:29-34, Hebrews 12:16-17), did not place much value on it. He esteemed the temporal above the spiritual, he had misplaced hunger. May God cure us of all misplaced hunger for things that would destroy us and render us less effective!

And coming from serving Laban for about 20 years and he was about to meet his brother Esau, and livid with fear, he wrestled all night with a divine personage, and he said (as the day was breaking and the angelic presence wanted to depart) he should bless him (Genesis 32:24-32). His need was not in cattle, he had that in abundance, neither was it wives or children, he needed a blessing, he needed that divine quality to mark his life, that he may be all God wants him to be.

Eventually he was renamed Israel, because as he prince he has wrestled with both God and man and prevailed. Whatever you can give all it takes is what you are hungry for.

There is no easy pie in the kingdom; actually we were told that “woe” are those who are at ease in Zion (Amos 6:1). Jesus said that the kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent takes it by force.

Those who make the mark in the kingdom of God are hungry people. Paul said that I may know him and the power of his resurrection being made conformable to his death and if by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead (Philippians 3:7-17). Those words reveal the heart of an hungry man. Beyond the niceties of doctrine, the rightness of moral values, there must be a pumping in the heart, a desire for God, a drive in his direction that cannot be stopped.

The greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, strength, might, with everything (Matthew 26:36-38, Luke 10:26-27). Christ rebuked a church in the book of Revelation, saying that they had lost their first love, they are now focused on a different thing, they do not seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Revelation 2:4-5), they pursue their own agenda. They were actually asked to repent and do the first works.

Fasting is a work of hunger; praying, dipping our nose in the word of God and fellowshipping with other Christians are works. Being distracted from these works is a mark of dwindling spiritual hunger.

Nothing stops an hungry man. Paul said that we should not be drunk with wine wherein in excess but be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). To be set out to be filled with something, you must have a strong desire for it.

At Pentecost, which has become synonymous with outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the onlookers said those speaking in tongues were drunk, yes there were but not of a physical substance but of an heavenly substance. That was after they were in a place expressing their hunger through prayer for ten days (Acts 1:12-14, 2:1-18).

Jesus said that his disciples did not need to fast while he was with them, but when he is taken away from them, they would fast as a physical symbolism of their hunger for him, his acts and his presence (Matthew 9:14-15).
Moses was an hungry man, he told God, “show me your glory (Exodus 33:12-23),” he was hungry for God himself. He said he wants to see his glory, though he didn’t get to see his face (because it was mortally dangerous), he got something close to that.

Isaiah prayed an hungry man’ s prayer saying God should rend the heavens and come down (Isaiah 64:1-4), he wanted an heightened experience of God’s manifestation.

What we need is a revival of hunger for God in our heart, when that intense hunger is there, we would overlook so many things that catches our attention now, since God would be the focus of our attention, and what you are hungry for takes your attention.

That is why John admonished that we should not love the world because then the love, the hunger for the father would be far from us (1John 2:15-17). The two are mutually exclusive. Paul puts it this way: the strong desires of the fresh are counter to the spirit while the strong desires of the spirit are counter to the flesh (Galatians 5:16-18). What you need may not be more knowledge but more of functional passion in the direction of God, to set your spiritual direction in order, instead of this flip flop over the years. The answer is hunger.


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