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Man Shall Not Live By Bread Alone (Matthew 4:4)

Hidden Nuggets Series #74 – “But he [Jesus] answered and said, “It is written, ‘ Man shall not live by bread alone , but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4

man shall not live by bread aloneMan shall not live by bread alone. You may have heard that phrase once in your life and wondered where it came from. Well it was Jesus quoting a passage from the Old Testament of the Bible in response to a pretty serious temptation.

The Bible tells us that before Jesus’ ministry began he went into the wilderness to pray and fast for forty days. After 40 days had passed the Bible says that “the tempter” (i.e. Satan) came to – well, tempt Jesus. And right off the bat Satan hit Jesus with his most pressing need – physical nourishment.

He goaded Jesus by saying,

“If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” (Matt. 4:3)

Innocent enough, right?

Fulfill your craving.

Satisfy your need.

Just do this one little act to stave off the grumbling in your stomach.

Now, in the grand scheme of things there is nothing wrong with you or I feeding ourselves when we get hungry. It’s the design of how our bodies are made. And we know from other Bible passages that Jesus did in fact eat. He was not immune to desiring a good meal.

So why such a big deal here?

Quite simply it would have been a selfish act and outside the will of his Father.

It was not the will of his Father for Jesus to give into temptation. It was not the will of the Father for Jesus to selfishly fulfill his own desires. It was not the will of the Father for Jesus to give into his enemy.

To do so would have destroyed Jesus’ entire purpose for coming to earth.

So in response to Satan’s temptation Jesus said, ‘ Man shall not live by bread alone , but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)

Cravings and Contentment

You and I do not have as much on the line as Jesus did. His mission was different and of a higher purpose than ours.

However, we do have temptations that come each day during moments of weakness. So many of them center on our craving for bread.

Accept in my daily life “bread” often comes to really mean “things.”

Have more things…get more things…show off more things.

Never satisfied…always craving. Those things are never enough.

Ever just think, “Man…will I ever get over the craving for more stuff?”

Jesus had a craving but he was content with where he was. Even after 40 days of no food he was content. He knew he was doing exactly what his Father wanted. It was enough for him.

Therein lies one issue in fighting off temptation and craving – are you content with your circumstance? Are you satisfied with what you already possess? Can you live each day without selfishly indulging the next big thing?

I know it’s a constant struggle for me. Interestingly, the cravings haven’t gone away as life progresses and the wealth begins to accumulate. And even if I discipline myself to not buy things I crave, the desire still boils up in my soul.

But I know the next thing out there – whatever that is – won’t make me happy. If I’m looking to only fulfill a craving, it will just be another thing I buy with no real value.

Not to mention ultimately distracting me from my purpose in life – which is to give to, help and serve others.

Not fulfilling that purpose would be the worst part of all.

Questions: What do you think about when you hear the phrase, “Man shall not live by bread alone?” Have you succumbed to the accumulation of things? How do you stay content? How do you fight off cravings you know are not in your best interest?

Image by surlygirl at Flickr Creative Commons

Next Post: How to Stop Making Bad Money Mistakes Again and Again

Prior Post: 5 Reasons to Shift Charitable Giving Away from the Holidays

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  1. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    Another inspirational entry, Brian. It’s hard to resist cravings or temptation. What I do if I crave on something is I refocus my attention on something else like reading books or playing tennis. I do believe that it’s a matter of choice and it’s all in the mind.

  2. Awesome post, Brian. We spent SO many years succumbing to and looking for fulfillment in the accumulation of things. So glad to be over that now. Our biggest temptation these days is to avoid paying off our debt in the manner that we want to, and keeping on track with God’s specific instructions for the whens and the hows for our particular situation. We humans always have that temptation to take things back under our own control instead of putting it into God’s hands, don’t we. 🙂

  3. “I know it’s a constant struggle for me. Interestingly, the cravings haven’t gone away as life progresses and the wealth begins to accumulate…

    Yep, Paul explains it pretty well to Timothy; when we chase after wealth we expose ourselves to temptation. We can get tripped up, give in to certain desires, cause ourselves agony and lose our faith.

  4. It’s so true that the key to contentment is not our circumstances, but being grateful for what God’s given us. In fact, according to Philippians 4:11-13, contentment is the secret to financial freedom in its truest sense.

    • “…the key to contentment is not our circumstances…” Agree 100% Kalie. I believe that’s where most people get mixed up. We can be content in any circumstance (even if it’s difficult)…the challenge is, will we chose to be?

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