Gen.2:7, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” KJV
Jn.6:32-33, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Jesus
Lk.12:29-31, “And do not seek what you shall eat, and what you shall drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek for His kingdom, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Jesus
Jn.20:31, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” NIV
The purpose of this chapter is to encourage greater faith and trust in God. We start by rightly defining human life along with giving instruction for its proper care. Simply stated, God is our Creator and we are to entrust our care to Him. To put into perspective what exactly we are to entrust to God, we must first learn how to trust in God instead of ourselves. From the verses above, we learn:
1) God is the source of our human life, and as Creator, He knows best how we are to live it and how best to care for us
2) God provides what is necessary to sustain life
3) Jesus teaches us that our primary pursuit in life should be to seek the things of heaven (unity with Him, virtue, righteous living), and by doing so, we put ourselves into a position to receive His blessings
4) Christ is the provision of God for sustaining life.
The first lesson to be learned here is to stop thinking of human life in organic terms or basing it on mental activity; we are not plants or animals. When God breathed His life into the body and soul of the first human, He created a spiritual being. Human life is to be sustained by the bread of life, which is Christ Himself. In order to help quiet the raging rebellion that normally accompanies letting go of the concept of our life as being something other than purely spiritual, just bring to mind that the organic body will eventually die, and the death of the body does not end human life. When the straps that bind our consciousness within the flesh at last snap, a lifeless corpse is left behind. However, our spirit continues to exist without a respiring body. If this thought is new, before proceeding, please pause and pray here for as long as it takes to adopt the definition of life as communion with God.
Just as the body has needs to sustain its organic life, our spirit likewise has needs that require sustenance to remain healthy. Our spiritual needs are meant to be satisfied by God alone. He created us with these needs so that as we go through life seeking fulfillment, the search would lead us back to Him. The things of the world may satisfy human desires briefly, but such sustenance is fleeting and eventually fails to satisfy altogether. Those who seek fulfillment in the flesh leave their souls spiritually malnourished, destitute and wanting, living their lives always in want of more. Only God can provide us with a life of abundance, a life where all our needs are sated beyond our capacity to grasp, resulting in a fullness that overflows into the lives of those around us.
There are two primary needs God created within us; they are significance and security (“The Search for Significance” by Robert S. McGee © 1985, 1990 Rapha Publishing). To live the abundant life, we need to know that our life matters and that our being has value, and we need to feel secure and be assured that we are okay and acceptable on all accounts. Secular living seeks to meet these needs by the acquisition of things such as money, power, fame, possessions, social standing, family, philosophy, appearance, physical conditioning, education, personal relationships, and so on (Php.3). Trying to meet our needs apart from God is known as living after the flesh. It is an exercise in futility (the lesson of Ecclesiastes); these flesh orientated pursuits always leave a soul wanting more since the ever-present awareness of human deficiencies (lack of righteousness) is not being addressed by the only solution God has given mankind, His Son Christ Jesus.
To allow God to satisfy our needs requires faith. We have to believe what we have been taught, that God loves us (Jn.3:16), that we are of value to Him (Mt.6:26) and that He will always provide and care for us (Heb.13:5). Again, stop here and ponder the implications of looking to God to supply our needs instead of deriving satisfactions from our own means, possessions, occupations, or from other people. For those who have been successful in their secular pursuits, parting with this belief may be cause for great angst. For those who have been unsuccessful, learning to be satisfied with the provisions of God should provide great relief. When we begin to look to God to meet our needs for attention, recognition, solace, encouragement and the like, we depart from a life primarily lived in the physical realm, and begin to live spiritually in the heavenly realm. It involves letting go of old familiar ways, and by faith, putting ourselves into the hands of God and accepting His provision. Once begun, we learn to function and interact with others out of the abundance that only God provides rather than out of the neediness and wantonness of the flesh. It is important to note here, that we are to look to God primarily as the source and provision for meeting our needs. His means come to us through His Son and His Word, and may include other souls or the many tangible things of the world.
The following is a list of suggestions for learning to live the abundant life Christ offers us.
1) Learn to value the eternal more than the temporal.
- Mt.6:19-21, earthly treasures are fleeting while the heavenly is forever
- Mt.16:24-26, what profit is there in gaining the world but losing the eternal
- Mt.18:7-9, instruction to part with whatever causes us to stumble in this life
2) Learn to discern the hand of God in all daily activity.
- Ps.23, David describes what it is like to walk with God
3) Learn to recognize our unmet needs and their influences upon our behavior.
- Mt.6:28-34, God knows our needs and is able to provide, our part is to put ourselves in a position to receive by seeking to know Him intimately
- Jas.4:1-6, be free of that which is motivated by pleasing self
4) After identifying a behavior motivated by the perception of an unmet need, refer to scripture for correction.
- 2Tim.3:16, St. Paul says to use God inspired scripture to guide our behavior
- Jas.4:1-8, St. James admonishes us to ensure our motivations are godly and not driven by lusts
5) Remember biblical lessons as to how God provides for His people, and be willing to
exercise faith by believing He will likewise provide for us.
- Exodus, God provides for the entire nation of Israel in a barren desert
- Mk.8:17-21, Jesus speaks of feeding 5000 souls with 5 loaves of bread
6) Take an inventory of the many blessings He has already provided, then in prayer
thank and praise Our Lord for them all.
- Ps. 95:1-7, 150, David sings songs of thanksgiving and praise
- Col.3:15-17: St. Paul instructs us to sing to God our hymns with a thankful heart
7) Be mindful of consequences of acting apart from the Holy Spirit, willful rebellion, deeds without faith or activities contrary to faith.
- Ps. 5, 14, 51, David speaks of those who incur the wrath of God by doing evil, or receive His blessings for goodness
- Mt.16:23, Jesus harshly rebukes St. Peter for wanting his own way instead of the will of God
8) Be mindful of His blessings for acting on faith.
- Mt. 6:1-4, Jesus instructs us to be satisfied in knowing we have pleased God, and to do so without desiring recognition from our fellows
- Lk.8:45-48, the story of a woman healed simply by reaching out to Jesus in faith
- Jn.4:7-42, the story of the Samaritan woman drawing water from the well with Jesus, and how her testimony leads many more to faith in Jesus
9) Trust in Him and focus on Him instead of circumstances or self.
- Mt.6:25-31, Jesus says that God provides for all His creatures great and small
- Mk.4:35-40, While the disciples fear for their lives, Jesus calms the storm that rocks the boat
10) Be ever mindful of our own shortcomings and ignore those seen in others except when called by God to bring them to their attention, or to learn from their mistakes. We address our own issues and not another’s unless asked for assistance.
- Lk.6:41-42, Jesus instructs us to clear our own eyes (address our own sinfulness first) before attempting to help our fellows do the same
“Our spiritual nature, which had become dead through wickedness, is raised once more by Christ through the contemplation of all the ages of creation. And through the spiritual knowledge that He gives of Himself, the Father raises the soul which has died the death of Christ. And this is the meaning of Paul’s statement: ‘If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him’ (cf. 2 Tim. 2:11).”
Evagrios the Solitary (5th C.); ThePhilokalia Vol. I, pg. 49 #17