Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Not By Bread Alone

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'” (Matthew 4:1-4)

Discerning between needs and wants in life can be one of the most difficult tasks we face.   A comedian once spoke of his son bringing him a pair of designer gym shoes which were priced at $100.00.  The boy pleaded his case to his father: “But Dad!  I NEED these!!”  The father replied: “Son, I have $40.00 budgeted for your new shoes.  That’s all I can afford right now.  If these are the shoes you want, then I can tell you exactly what you need.  You NEED $60.00 more.  And since I don’t have the extra $60.00, what you NEED is a job!”

The line dividing want and need is frequently blurred.  A want is a matter of desire, a perspective or a perception of how much inconvenience or discomfort we can stand to endure in a given situation.  A need however is an existent insufficiency, whether perceived or not, which unless is met in some satisfactory fashion, loss or damage may be incurred.  Due to physical thirst, I may want a soft drink today, but I do not need it as I do water.  Indeed, soft drinks are an insufficient substitute for water, so by treating my need with a want, I do not do well for myself.  

In the passage above from Matthew chapter 4, Jesus had been fasting in the wilderness for a very long time.  His body wanted to eat.  He must have been extremely hungry.  The devil came to Jesus and tempted him to use the authority and power of God to satisfy his own hunger.   While Jesus may have wanted his hunger to go away, he also knew that he NEEDED to be faithful to his Heavenly Father.  So, he resisted temptation, stating: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

In the Lord’s Prayer recorded in Matthew chapter 6, verse 11, we find the following prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.”  What is daily bread?  Is it only food, or is it more?  The word for ‘daily’ in the Greek here is – epiousios.  It refers to subsistence, that which is needed today.  What is curious about this Greek word is that it is found in no Greek writing before the Gospels.  According to Origen, epiousios is a word formed by the Biblical authors  from two separate words to express the concept not only of that needed to sustain the body, but those provisions of grace needed daily to sustain the spirit and soul as well.  God knows what our hearts desire.  He also knows well what we need.  How grateful we are for Daily Bread…that extends far beyond merely satisfying what we hunger for.

Scriptures to Claim
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

“I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

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