"Our Daily Bread" (Part 3 of 4)
From the fifth lecture in the audio seminar Praying Biblically
The phrase from the Lord’s prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread” is extraordinarily important for you and me because it takes on the dominant idolatry of our culture. I am speaking of greed. This part of the prayer compels you to turn your thoughts and your mind away from the world’s sufficiency and its allurements and unto God’s salvation and his provisions.
This week’s Torah portion is the reading of the Ten Commandments. The 10th commandment is specifically “you shall not covet the things of your neighbor, you shall not even desire them.” And yet everything in our culture is there to generate within you desire and covetousness. The advertisers are experts at generating covetousness within you because the entire industry is based upon coveting and desiring. You need a newer version, the latest version, the biggest version, a nicer home, the latest fashion. Everything daily bombards you with what the Scripture enjoins you to forbid—covetousness. If you are not into the prayer: “Father may I be so dependent upon you that I can trust you today for what I need,” you will be transformed into the image of this culture. Greed is not a virtue in the biblical world, greed is a sin. Paul says it is the sin of idolatry in 1 Corinthians—greed is as idolatry.
The reason God gives us manna on a daily basis is to show us that he is the provider of Israel, that his loving-kindness is sustained and ever faithful and that he wants a daily relationship with you. He wants you to be in such a relationship with him that daily you depend upon him for your sufficiency.
Have you seen the bumper sticker that says: “the one who dies with the most toys, wins.” You see it on fancy sports cars driven by high energy executives. That my friends, is the spirit of this age. It is exactly the opposite spirit of “give us Father this day our sufficiency.” Greed is a potent and powerful destructive force. So we have to train ourselves to be dependent upon God.
He commands us in the great commandment to love him with all of our heart, soul and strength. The word strength in the Hebrew, literally means with all your possessions, with all your muchness and with all your might as it is sometimes translated. You are commanded by God (and it is restated by Jesus) that you are to love God and to serve God with all your possessions. That is why Jesus speaks so much of the issue of God and mammon (wealth).
One of the true indicators of your spiritual vitality is either a good eye or an evil eye. If you have an evil eye—in other words, if you are covetous, if you are acquisitionally oriented, if you are clinging, possessive and desirous, if you have a spirit that is fixated on your acquisitions, on money, possessions—you have what Jesus calls an “evil eye.” Jesus says that if this the case: “you are extraordinarily deceived, because what should be light within you, is in fact darkness.” On the other hand, if you have a generous giving spirit, you are full of light. Make your choice, who is your God today? Is it mammon–wealth–or is it the Lord God of Israel who gives you manna for today? Choose whom you will serve. Father give us what is sufficient for this day.
Generosity characterized the early believers. See 2 Corinthians 9:5-15. Would you today do a little reality check on yourself? You say that Jesus is Lord, that God is King and Father, and that you want his will to be done. You say that in all ways you trust him. How do we check that? Well, let us use Jesus’ method—how is your generosity quotient? Do you give reluctantly, or out of a sense of obligation and compulsion—well, the church has the right to my tithes, I guess I will put them in; does that mean I have to tithe on my gross or on my net; what about this bonus, does that require a tithe?
If this is stepping on your toes, then you need to get on your knees—and I am speaking to myself also. The people who are truly generous—not just with their money but with themselves—are people who have so much confidence in God as Father and in Jesus as King that they can freely give up what needs to be given to meet an appropriate need, knowing that God will sustain them. I can call to mind two or three people that I know to be generous. And you know what? It is a blessing to be around them. Not because they give things to me, but because they are full of light.
We are in a situation—my wife and I are in a very important step in our lives and we have asked some friends to help us in that step. We decided that we do not want to send out a letter to everyone on our mailing list to ask for help. Do you know why? Because the people who would respond first to that letter are the people who have the least means to do it. As a general rule, the people who have a lot give relatively little, and the people often who have little are the first who want to give a lot. I would be embarrassed and ashamed to receive gifts from someone who cannot give for some need that I might have. What I am saying is, they are full of light.
* This is an audio transcript, listen to the original message here.