Spiritual Meat and the Work Ethic

Glen Berry

WHAT REASONS to stand in continual amazement and wonder at the timeless practical value of the Word of God! Just think—

God is Spirit, and He created man to be both flesh and spirit. Is it surprising, then, that the Creator would create man and then give him His Word in an Instruction Book as a Guide to conduct his NATURAL life and his SPIRITUAL life? God the Creator leaves nothing out! He cares for all parts of His creation. There is NO book on earth like the Bible, the Word of God. It is God-inspired, “God-breathed.” WHY was it given? “All scripture is given by inspiration of of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: THAT THE MAN OF GOD MAY BE PERFECT [mature] THROUGHLY [or thoroughly] FURNISHED UNTO ALL GOOD WORKS.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

No man could write such a book; even if he could, he WOULD NOT!

Now when the Lord Jesus replied against the devil in Matthew 4:4, He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” And Luke 4:4 says the very same thing.

WHAT KIND OF BALANCE IS THAT?! Jesus, being God in the flesh, knew and knows that natural man of flesh and blood MUST have bread to live. When the children of Israel were traveling forty YEARS in the wilderness, He fed them with bread (manna) rained down from heaven, and also gave them meat to eat. When the prophet Elijah was told to hide himself by the brook Cherith, he obeyed the Lord, though there was no food there. So God commanded the ravens to feed him twice a day while there. Now ravens are not attracted to bread, but they will eat meat to survive themselves. But they collected BOTH and brought “bread and flesh” to the prophet twice a day!

God does not overlook the very natural fact that the man of flesh needs bread and flesh to properly sustain natural life. Yet Jesus lets us know that man shall not live by bread ALONE, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

In Luke 12:23-24 we learn, “The life is MORE than meat, and the body is MORE than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and GOD FEEDETH THEM: how much more are ye better than the fowls?” Can you not cry out in thankful praise at such loving care of our gracious Creator and Savior, our Lord and our God?

Yet the Lord lets us know in no uncertain terms that bread alone is not enough for the man of God. At times the spirit, the living spirit in man is so spiritually HUNGRY for “soul food,” that it even fasts, doing without natural food in order to feed the soul. This spiritual aspect of man was what Jesus was going through when He had been ministering spiritually to the woman at the well. When His disciples returned, imploring Him to EAT, He said unto them—

“I have meat to eat that ye know not of.”

That reminds me of His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Not the belly but the soul; not the man of flesh with his natural needs, but the spirit within him that craves righteousness much like a hungry fleshly body craves food when starving. That and communing with His Father, and ministering to His people spiritually was what Jesus was talking about when He said, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” “Man shall not live by bread ALONE.”

And Jesus was including NATURAL bread when He taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

Again, He was speaking of natural bread when He said in Matthew 7:9-10, “ Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask for a fish, will he give him a serpent”?

Even his stomach! When the Lord discerned that the crowd was following Him only for the loaves, He strongly rebuked them, saying,—

“Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for Him hath God the Father sealed.” (See John 6:26-27.) He also told them that they did NOT seek Him for the miracles but for because they were getting their stomachs filled. They were IGNORING or blind to the fact that is it is NOT by bread ALONE, but by “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. They were way “off-balance,” making an idol even of BREAD!

He told them in verse 51, “I am the living bread which came down from Heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.” The same truth is recorded also in verse 58.

When the Lord speaks of “laboring not” for the meat that perishes,” He is not speaking of not working at all for natural needs, but emphazing that being distracted overmuch with the natural cares of life can be wrong when out-of-proportion to our spiritual needs. The health of the soul and eternal things is BY FAR the most important and should be our top priority.

When He speaks of the fowls of the air that do not “sow or reap” He is not telling us to cease sow

from sowing and reaping, or to cease from all work. But we are not to be so overly concerned that we fail to trust our heavenly Father for our needs, even if the need might be a job that gives us needed work. The balance is in that scripture, “Man does not live by bread ALONE, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” with the latter to be given preeminence in our daily lives.

We know this because the Word of God does not contradict itself.

This brings us to a strong and proper and a righteous “work ethic.”

I have seen youth that for all practical purpose are lazy bums, looking for a handout, and wanting everything given to them, taking no responsibility to labor by the sweat of their brow that God told Adam after the Fall, that he and his posterity were now to do. These youth had no good “work ethic.” And I have also seen youth who were responsible and hard workers, giving an employer an honest day’s work for a day’s pay. And even helping others when NO pay is involved. That is a righteous work ethic.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:10 we are instructed, “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” A strong work ethic is necessary and right.

“He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a waster.” (Prov. 18:9)

“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hand to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travails; and thy want as an armed man.” (Prov. 24:30-34)

How practical is THAT?!

I will close with this scripture: “. . . Let him labor, WORKING with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to GIVE to him that needeth.” (Ephesians 4:28)

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