As per my previous posts (part one, part two) I’m doing a little study on the subject of money and the book of Matthew. I’m very interested in seeing not only what Jesus taught but also how he lived. And Matthew was a tax collector, so I have a suspicion he might have written a bit more on this subject than the other Gospel writers.
I’m at Matthew 6, which starts with Jesus teaching on giving to the needy. The scripture is easy to follow: when we give to those in need, we’re not to announce it or glorify ourselves, announcing how wonderful we are to the whole world. We should not seek the reward of self-glorification but only seek the rewards that God gives.
Jesus then moves onto the Lord’s prayer and gives us an idea on how we should pray. In the Lord’s prayer he first establishes what’s important: that the Father is worshipped properly (“hallowed be your name”), that His Kingdom should come and His will be done, and then the line: “Give us today our daily bread”.
Note this: He doesn’t say give us our bread for life! Help us to stock up on bread! Give us the tools to make lots of money so we can have plenty of bread! He only says we ought to ask for bread for today.
My ESV Bible has a little note here and says it can be translated, “Give us our bread for tomorrow”. That doesn’t negate the point, though. If this is what Jesus meant, ‘tomorrow’ is still only one day. And we need to also look at what Jesus says later in chapter 6 (vs 34) – “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
This doesn’t mean one should not invest in a retirement fund or any of that kind of stuff. But when it comes to what we ask of God, we’re asking him to provide us our bread for today. In other words, we need to realise that we are, in fact, in a constant state of reliance on God.
This makes me think of Psalm 145: 5:
“The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.”
You might recall my first post on this topic where the subject of seasons in provision first popped up.
We live in a fallen world and even our investments can fizzle and become nothing. War can break out. Economies can collapse. When these things happen, we often blame God and wonder why we weren’t protected from them (as if, following God means we’re protected from a fallen world). The promise from God, however, is that He will give us today our daily bread. We’re reliant on him ultimately, and we better keep that in mind, because if we rely on the systems of this world we are guaranteed to be disappointed.
God will provide, however the provision may only be manna from heaven, not milk and honey. The latter may come in its time, though. Or it may not come in our lifetime. But whatever the case, we ask God to provide us our bread for today.
I want to avoid becoming a fatalist, but there is a sense that if we don’t have the money today then it may be that God is telling us we actually don’t need it today. But as the rest of Psalm 145 goes:
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfils the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.