When it comes to Jesus' words "Blessed are those who "hunger and thirst after righteousness," I think it helpful to reflect on different ways that we can relate his words. I see five ways.
First, you have those who don't and don't want to. They hunger after the things of the world and they are honest about it. And they don't really want to change.
Second, there are those who don't but wish they did. Their inner being hungers after what this world can give—power, position, possessions, and pleasure—but they have gotten in touch with something deep within themselves that longs for more. They feel the Spirit of God stirring up something new within them. They just don't know what to do about it.
A third group includes those who hunger after that which the world offers, but they think that they hunger for righteousness. This is a most dangerous group in which to find oneself, and I must confess that I'm all too familiar with it. This is a blind hunger, where church people tell themselves that they hunger for God's righteousness, but if they were honest they would admit that their lives are full hunger for things like a better job, a bigger house, avoiding failure, financial security, having fun, etc. And as a result, often church gets turned into a event that accommodates these hungers.
A fourth group is filled with those who force themselves to hunger and thirst after what is righteous. Sadly, I've also found myself here on much of my journey. They live out of obligation, duty and following the rules. So if living into righteousness means charity to the poor, they do the right thing and give their offerings for that purpose. If righteousness means loving our enemies, then they do their best to do no harm to anyone that harms them. This is an externally-focused view of hungering for righteouness. It's hungering for hunger of righteousness. They want to want it, but they know that they really don't so they follow the rules to do the right thing.
The final group is much more rare because this kind of hunger results from transformation, the kind of inner transformation that happens to us in a way that we cannot understand. Rather than a transformation because of our efforts, we find that something has happened to us. It's not so much something that you do to make happen. It's more like Mary who knew that something "had been done unto her" (Luke 1:38). You are not hungering out of duty or obligation. You are not even pretending to hunger for the right things of God. You really do.
This requires us to actually trust God enough to transform us. After all, the call to follow Jesus is actually about following him in transforming relationship. It's not a self-help program where we are called to fix ourselves so that we better line up when I lives fall short. God's transforming love is truly transforming. It goes to the core and changes our hungers from the inside out.
God is at work in the world.
God is at work in your world.
God is at work in the world of your heart.