The Essentials of Life

"Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life..." John 6:27

In the above words Jesus teaches us that there is more to life than our physical requirements—but for most people this is far beyond their horizon. The basic needs of this life—our food, clothing and shelter—help sustain our temporary existence for a few short years it is true, but is that all there is to life?

In pursuit of this passing and mortal existence, people spend a great deal of their time and energy on Education, a respectable career and then advancement, all of which combine to provide us with a lavish table of the meat which perisheth. In noting this hustle and bustle of human life in pursuit of temporal things, the great Creator and Sustainer of all things says: "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me and eat ye that which is good...Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live" (Isa. 55:2-3).


paul_apostle.gif - 5.0 KIn response to this appeal, some would seek to create a conflict between natural and spiritual things. It has been argued that scripture requires men to labour for their daily bread (Gen. 3:19 etc.) and that it is a Christian duty to provide for one’s own household (1 Tim. 5:8 etc.). This of course is true and it is acknowledged by all honest men (as well as by virtuous women—Prov. 3:15, 27). Whilst being aware that even those passages of scripture have their spiritual significance; one would be foolish to deny their practical applications. Any apparent conflict is artificial; it does not neutralize our Lord’s words in John 6 quoted at the head of this editorial. The apostle Paul laboured as a tentmaker as well as in the gospel—and if he saw no conflict there are no grounds for us to do so.

We must not lose sight of priorities. There is no excuse for not taking time to hearken diligently to our God, or to give due consideration to the truth He has revealed.

Right Priorities

It was a fundamental lesson that God desired Israel to learn in the wilderness: "he suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna...that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live" (Deut. 8:3). Job said "I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food" (23:12). Jesus pointed to the need for faith in such matters—faith in right priorities:

"Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

These scriptures teach us that it is a question of putting first things first—in faith. We are called upon to see beyond temporal things—to realize that there is more to life than eating, drinking and laying up treasures on earth: "for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15).

Humanitarianism is Incomplete

The modern world, especially, cannot get hold of this perspective on life. As human beings we are concerned mostly with what affects us, directly, now. The state of a man’s stomach is more important to him that the great purposes of God. For most, the rise and fall of nations, the major currents of human history and the hand of God in these things are but trivia compared to their own present personal welfare. This is why the ideals and values of socialism are so much honoured today; it seeks to take care of societies’ temporal needs (what will they eat, what will they wear, what about housing...), but it is stone blind and unconcerned about spiritual poverty—or the famine of hearing the words of the Lord (Amos 8:11). Certainly one does not ignore hardship. The disciple of Christ will try to alleviate it where it is reasonable and possible to do so, yet "the life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment"—Luke 12:23.

Truth Undervalued

It is this prevailing blindness which cannot see past temporal things, and which fails to appreciate the value of "the word of truth" (James 1:18), that prevents so many from being able to perceive danger in ideas which threaten faith and spiritual life. It is why so few today discern the fatal consequences of apostate religion.

It is foolish to undervalue the truth of God’s word—for in this only are we able to find true life (John 1:4). The Lord Jesus Christ gives us "AN UNDERSTANDING" that we may know him that is true (1 John 5:20), and we can only receive that "understanding" from his teaching and example. Let us then labour for this meat, for this understanding, for it endureth unto eternal life. To undervalue the truth of God is to undervalue this eternal life of which scripture speaks.

The Need to Sit at Jesus’ Feet

When it comes to the essentials of life, the great need of our day is spiritual sustenance and enlightenment so as to bring true value and meaning in life. It is what we do with our life that is important (not just the mechanics of survival), and in this there is no better example than the life of Christ. He declared "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" (John 6:35). In order to understand this we must be able to see more than loaves and fishes—rather than being cumbered about with much serving we have to learn the value in sitting at Jesus’ feet. "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).

His words today are found only in the Bible. We do well in taking time to read and understand what he has said.

Pure and Undefiled Religion

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