The definition of provisional need varies widely between places, people, and situations. I have acquaintances ministering in the Tribeca region of Manhattan that simply can’t make it on the same resources as some other acquaintances ministering 1800 miles to the south in the villages of Central America. What might be considered extravagant in one area or situation may not in the other. The need is quite different in each location, and God is aware of the conditions in each. He is able to meet our daily needs regardless of circumstances in each place. The question is not whether or not God can supply for our needs, but rather whether or not we are in the will of God. If we are, He has unlimited resources available to accomplish it. The next consideration is the willingness to be content with what he gives us to accomplish His will.
Some feel the western culture and the western church struggles with the term, “moderation.” The word is found in its Greek form epieikes, in Philippians 4:5. “It refers to restraint on the passions, general soberness of living, being free from all excesses. The word properly means that which is fit or suitable, and then propriety, gentleness, and mildness. Paul the Apostle was telling Christians to not to indulge in excess of passion, or dress, or eating, or drinking. They were to govern their appetites, restrain their temper, and to be examples of what was proper for people in view of the expectation that the Lord would soon appear” (Barnes Notes, Phil. Biblesoft).
I am not implying wealth is evidence of a shallow spiritual experience any more than having little is evidence of spiritual depth. Most commentators agree, however, that the word bread used by Jesus in this prayer merely represents the request for the necessities, sustenance, and for those things needed to accomplish His call. It is in no way a request for extravagance.
While walking with friends one evening on Broadway in New York City, an employee walked out of a restaurant door with a large black trash bag of discarded food scraps and placed it on the curb for pick up by the sanitation department. The bag no sooner hit the ground than a young man ran in from a dark corner, opened the bag, and began eating the food while stooping in the gutter. There wasn’t even enough time to offer to help him before he grabbed all he could and disappeared into a dark alley.
The needs around us are overwhelming and can leave those desiring to help others wondering where to even begin. I understand many people experience lack because of wrong choices, while others experience lack because of something beyond their control, someone else’s greed, injustice, indifference, or corrupt systems and leaders.
I am not saying we are responsible for the irresponsible, that we should support those who have a spirit of unearned or undeserved entitlement or that we should all be equal in everything, but I do think we might reconsider the definition and application of the biblical term, “Moderation.” If we did, perhaps there would be more to share with those in need. “When it is in your power, don’t withhold good from the one to whom it is due. Don’t say to your neighbor, ‘Go away! Come back later. I’ll give it tomorrow’—when it is there with you” (Proverbs 3:27,28 HCSB).
May we at least encourage each other who call upon Christ as our Lord and Savior and sincerely ask Him how much is too much?
Give us today our daily bread
(The “Living the Lord’s Prayer” blog series is based on Craig’s book, The Vigil, available at village2village.co. Proceeds will support mission work around the world.)