Series Title: "Pray Then, Like This ..."
Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. - 1 Timothy 6:6-10
The attitude of the early believers reflected in Acts 2 compared with our generation is shocking to me. Yet 1 Timothy 6 illustrates that temptations related to money are common to us all. Culture compels us to acquire, accumulate, and retain all we can. God wants us to be attached to him, but we so easily get attached to our possessions. Our possessions are simply there for our use and should be readily given up when appropriate.
The phrase and ideas behind, Give us this day our daily bread is essential for you and me because it takes on the dominant idolatry of our culture.
I am speaking here of greed. This part of our prayer compels us to turn our thoughts towards God's salvation and his provision, away from the world's allurements and seeming sufficiency.
We know the command, You shall not covet. Yet advertisers are experts at generating covetousness within us because the entire industry is built upon creating desire, a you "need" mentality. Think about it. We are bombarded daily with what Scripture warns us against—covetousness and greed. We desperately need the daily prayer, "Father, may I be so dependent upon you that I can trust you today for what I need," to prevent us from being squeezed into the world's mold.
Greed is not a virtue in the biblical world; it is a sin. Paul says greed is as idolatry. God gives us manna daily to show us that he is the provider, that his unfailing lovingkindness sustains us, and that he wants a daily walk with us. He wants you to be in such an intimate relationship with him that you depend daily upon him for your sufficiency. We must train ourselves to depend upon God, and the disciple's prayer helps us do just that.
Covetousness is the spirit of the age, and it is the exact opposite of daily bread. Greed is a potent and powerfully destructive force.
Jesus' taught the first half of the greatest of all commandments is, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. In Hebrew, strength (might) means with all your possessions. Therefore, to love God includes serving him with all your possessions. That is why Jesus speaks so much about the issue of God and mammon (wealth).
One true indicator of your spiritual vitality is a good or a bad (evil) eye.
If you are covetous and acquisitionally oriented; if you are clinging and possessive; if your heart is fixated on getting and keeping all you can, then you have what Jesus calls a bad eye (see Mtt 6:23). And 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. Generosity characterized the early believers (see 2 Corinthians 9:5-15).
Today is the day for a reality check. Who is your God? Whom do you serve? You must choose. Will it be wealth (mammon) with its false promises? Or will it be your Creator, the Lord God of Israel, who gives you daily manna?
Jesus gave us a method to check our generosity quotient. Do you give? When you do, do you give reluctantly or out of a sense of obligation and compulsion? If this is stepping on your toes, perhaps you need to get on your knees. Trust me, 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. They are a blessing to be around, not because they provide things for me, but because they are full of light.
Our consumer culture has you and me by the throat. It is squeezing the very light and life of God out of us.
The early church was noted for its generosity, love, and concern for one another. I praise the Lord for the faithful haverim that support this ministry. I am not saying any of this to you because we have a particular need for an offering or because I am trying to compel you to obey certain principles of tithing.
I am saying this out of spiritual concern for you. You have given me the honor of influence in your life as a teacher. And I am responsible before our God to tell you the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You may sing and dance gloriously and preach better than anybody. You may appear to others as impressive, but if you are not a generous, giving, servant-hearted person, Jesus wants you to know there is darkness in you masquerading as light.
The kingdom of God you see is a paradox, it is always opposite to what the world and what your natural inclination want. The world wants you to get, get, get. Jesus asks you to give, give, give.
He says, Do you want to have life? Prepare to die. Do you want to receive much? Give up everything. Do you want to be exalted? Humble yourselves. Do you try to exalt yourself? Beware. God will humble you. Do you try to hold on to what you have? It will be taken from you.
Not one of us attends a funeral without being reminded that, in the end, it is all vanity, emptiness, and hollowness. So then, why today are you grasping for the wind? Why not lay hold of our Father and let him be your sufficiency in all things? Are you going through difficult times? Let people in your community, those full of light, be the hand of God extended in your time of need.
And if you are going through good times, look around for opportunities to be God's hand extended. May we be known as a people full of light, people who give of themselves: their time, their talents, and their financial resources to meet the needs of the people of God. May you be known as someone who tastes the manna each and every day.
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.