Not By Bread Alone
Author : Christian Ballenger
There are many things that we need in order to live. The prevalent things that come to mind are air, water, clothing, shelter and, of course...food. Though these are our basic human necessities that we can pretty much all agree on, there is still one thing that is required for us to survive—the word of God!
When Jesus was being tempted of the devil in the wilderness, he had been fasting for forty days and forty nights. Matthew 4:2-4 recounts Jesus' initial encounter with the enemy:
After fasting forty days and forty nights, [Jesus] was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
First of all, after fasting for forty days in the dry desert heat, you would not have to tell me to turn stones into bread. I would have already beaten the devil to it before he even tempted me!
Jesus teaches us a lesson here that we cannot miss. As much as we need bread (food) to survive, the word of God is essential (vital, fundamental, indispensable, etc.) to the life of a believer.
Notice that Jesus responds to the devil with "it is written." The scripture that Jesus quotes comes from Deuteronomy 8:3. Here, the Lord speaks to the children of Israel and is giving them instructions before they enter into the Promised Land. In context, Deuteronomy 8:1-3 reads:
"Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.
"3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD."
One thing that is particularly interesting about this text is how God says he humbled Israel. When God humbles us it is to get us back in line with his word. Consequently, Psalm 119:71 reads, "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees."
He humbled the children of Israel by bringing them to a place of discomfort, lack and dependence. God wanted to show them that it was not they that took care of themselves, but it was he who cared for them.
There are, for certain, times in our lives when God will place us in uncomfortable positions, particularly when we get complacent. He uses these life circumstances to drive us towards his instruction manual for our lives—the Bible.
Once we get back on the path that is outlined by the word (Psalm 119:105), we will have no choice but to be blessed. Proverbs 3:1-2 posits, "My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity."
We as believers, however, must do our part and value the word of God; so much so that we cannot live or even think about living without it. The fact of the matter is, however, that we really cannot live without the word.
God knows this more than anyone. Proverbs 4:13 commands, "Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life."
This is why the Holy Spirit convicts us when we have not read in a few days, or he uses a situation or circumstance to drive us to the word. We need the word not only to be in our lives, but also to consume our life!
Think for a second. What do we allow to take precedence over the creator of the universe's direct revelation as revealed to us through the Bible?
Second Timothy 3:16 reads, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."
If in God we truly "live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28), then we have to stuff our faces with as much word as we do food. The same powerful words that sustain all things (Hebrews 1:3) God has spoken into the Scriptures.
As Christians, then, we should immerse ourselves in this powerful word that we may be partakers of the same power.
After all, Proverbs 30:5 reads, "Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him."
Take refuge, then, in God's word.
Author's Resource Box
Christian Ballenger is a graduate of Saint Xavier University in Chicago, IL. He is currently a member of New Life Covenant Church, also in Chicago. Christian has aspirations of becoming an ordained minister and one day attending seminary. You can contact Christian at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit his site at http://quenchnot.wordpress.com.
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