“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 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 me 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.
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: 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?
About the author: Brian Fourman is a personal finance writer. He helps individuals and families navigate the challenges of managing their money so that they can grow wealth and live with greater peace of mind. In his down time, he loves hanging out with his four kids and hearing his wife talk about all the cool things CPAs do at work. You can check him out providing encouragement and inspiration on his blog at Luke1428.com or by connecting with him on Facebook.