BREAD FOR THIS DAY Fifth Nazarene Principle

The Saviour, ca. 1900-1905 by Henry Ossawa Tanner (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

 

 

Give us our bread for this day…

 

 

 

 

The Nazarene prayed, ‘Give us our bread for this day.’ (Matthew 6:11) And with this simple phrase he introduces to his world a revolutionary attitude toward life and material things. It is the Fifth Nazarene Principle and it is completely at odds with human nature in its sinful condition. It flies in the face of modern commercial competition, a characteristic reflected in the Nazarene’s disciple James:

James 4:13-14 [NCMM]
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, let us go to such and such a city, spend a year there, and trade, and make a profit,” 
14 when you do not know of tomorrow. For what is your life? For it is a vapour that appears for a little, and then disappears –

Indeed, the Fifth Principle cuts to the bone in the human struggle between spirituality and materialism. Like water and oil, the two do not mix well. In the human need for security with its attendant worries about tomorrow, amplified by occasional arrogant self-preservation, spirituality is sacrificed, placed in a secondary place, or abandoned altogether.

The prayer of the Nazarene reflects this mental inclination of not being overly concerned about tomorrow, for he asks the Father only for today’s bread, not tomorrow’s. Not tomorrow, not the month after. This disposition is right at the top of the Nazarene’s teachings. He not only taught it, he lived it. The idea is exactly what we would expect from a highly spiritual individual with absolute faith in his Father.
First, examine the life of the Nazarene. How different he was from many modern religious leaders. No matter the religion you wish to examine you will likely find religious men living in either grand style, or at least one considerably above their “flock” in general. (1 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:7, 11; 1 Peter 5:2) From East to West, it is the same, even among those who have taken so-called “vows of poverty.” Today the Gospel of Success is proclaimed by prosperity preachers. “Give to me and God will give to you,” is a recurring theme. It all flies in the face of the Nazarene’s teachings.
Admittedly, a Western reader living in a society driven by materialism and greed, or a person raised on the upper middle class norms of affluent countries, will find the Fifth Principle “unrealistic” or “foolish” and difficult to live by. This teaching of  Yahshua contradicts every materialistic principle to which these capitalists have been exposed. But, the Fifth Principle is a goal to strive for as one seeks balance between material concerns and spirituality in a simply life centred on Yahweh
When a young Jewish scribal copyist suggested he follow the Nazarene, the Master’s response was a simple,

Matthew 8:20
20 “The foxes have holes and the birds of the heaven nests, but the Son of Aḏam has nowhere to lay His head.”

When a rich young prince asked what he had to do, he was told,

Luke 18:18
18 Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven. And come, follow Me.

The rich prince’s reaction, and that of the disciples, prompted the famous,

Luke 18:24 24 How hard it is for those who have riches to enter into the reign of Elohim!  25 For it is easier for a camel to enter through a needle’s eye¹ than for a rich man to enter into the reign of Elohim.
 { ¹the eye of a needle- A small door fixed in a gate and opened after dark. To pass through, the camel must be unloaded. Hence the difficulty of the rich man. He must be unloaded, and hence the proverb, common in the East. In Palestine the "camel"; in the Babylonian Talmud it is the elephant-Companion Bible Notes}.

 To which the Nazarene said

Luke 18:29-30
29 Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the reign of Elohim, 
30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come everlasting life. 

The Nazarene made plain his teachings on material things, and the anxieties associated with them, during his famous Mountain Teachings 

Matthew 6:19-34 [NCMM Paraphrase]
‘Save no treasures for yourselves on earth, where it may be turned to dust by worms and weather, where thieves come in by force. But, keep saving your riches in heaven, where neither moth nor wear-and-tear destroys and where thieves cannot break in and steal. For where your treasure is you may be certain your heart will be there too. 
The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is focused correctly the whole body will be illumined. But, if your eye is selfish and envious, the whole body will be blind. If the very source of light in you is darkness, how intense must be that darkness! No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be loyal to the one and make light of the other. You must serve God or money. You cannot serve both.
Stop worrying about your life as to what you will eat or drink nor wondering what you will have to wear. Surely, life means more than food. Surely, the body means more than clothes. Look at the wild birds. They sow not, neither do they reap. Yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not much more valuable to Him than they are? But which of you with all his worry can add a single hour to his life? And why should you trouble over clothing? See how the wild flowers grow. They neither work nor weave and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not dress like one of these. But, if God so beautifully dresses the wild fields of grass, which are green today, but tomorrow is dry and thrown into an oven, is He not more likely to clothe you? O, people, how little you trust Him!
 So, do not worry and do not keep saying, “What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear?” For the people of the world run after all these things. Your heavenly Father already knows you need these things. But, you must make His Kingdom and uprightness before Him your greatest care. Seek first the Kingdom! And all that you need will be yours over and above. So never be troubled about tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself. Every day has trouble enough of its own.’

What a powerful statement to rock the obsessively self-satisfied and security conscious who claim to be disciples of the Nazarene! The Nazarene also made it clear how to earn “credit” with the Father by the use of one’s material possessions:

Luke 6:30-38 [NCMM Paraphrase]
‘Give to everyone asking you and do not ask back from the one taking your things. As you wish men to do to you, you do to them. And if you are loving only those loving you, what credit or reward is there in that? For sinners are loving those who are loving them. And if you only do good to those doing good to you, what credit or reward is there in that? Sinners do the very same thing. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit or reward is there in that? Sinners are lending in order that they might get back at least the same. 
Be loving even your enemies by doing good to them, lending to them,320 hoping for nothing in return. And then you will be Sons of the Most High. Because He is kind toward the unthankful and the wicked. Become merciful and compassionate in your giving even as your Father is merciful and compassionate. You must be complete in this matter of giving just as your heavenly Father is complete. 
Stop judging and being critical and you will not be judged or criticized. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Release others from their debts and you will be released from your Debt. Practice giving. Give to the one asking and do not turn away from the one wishing to borrow from you.’

This will unsettle many in the modern Western world, even that part which professes Christianity. For proof of spiritual sonship is found in the way one uses material possessions. It is one of the single most apparent ways Yahweh judges a person. It is in this unselfish giving, without any agenda, that one has “credit” with Yahweh. When the Nazarene teaches about love it is almost always couched in the context of material giving.
The Nazarene continues to teach after the parable of the rich farmer and the shrewd steward

Luke 16:9 [NCMM] 
 ‘Make friends with your unrighteous riches in order that when these material things fail the angels might receive you into eternal dwellings.’  

[Here the Messiah is referring to material wealth in general. We should use our economic resources for spiritual purposes-Nazarenes to the World]

It is this phrase “when these material things fail” which frightens the materialistic. For there are many ways for financial security to fail: theft, extortion, bank failures, wars, catastrophic illness with its attendant medical expenses, accident, or some unknown electronic failure of the world’s computerized systems.
Well, did the Nazarene live this way. Surely he did. We see him leading a simple, even an austere life. A guest here and a guest there. Sleeping nights in the open mountains or deserts with only his cloak. (Luke 5:16; 6:12; 21:37; Mark 1:45) Accepting hospitality from one quarter then another. (Mark 2:14, 15; Luke 5:27) Humble and appreciative enough to allow a group of women to ‘minister to him from their belongings.’ (Luke 8:3) In no way did he take advantage of this charity for he leads a simple life and on occasion was actually hungry and tired. (Matthew 4:2; 21:18; 25:35; Mark 11:12; Luke 4:2; John 4:6)
The Nazarene taught his disciples to do the same, for when he sent out his Apostles, and later the Seventy Disciples, he told them:

Luke 9:3 [NCMM] 
3 ‘Take nothing for your trip. No staff or food pouch or bread or money or extra clothing.’ 

He was to teach them a lesson in faith, for later, after his resurrection, he reminded them,

Luke 22:35-36 [NCMM] 
35 ‘When I sent you out without money or food, did you want for anything?’ 
36 His Apostles said, “No.” 

Many efforts have been made to liberalize or water-down the straightforward teachings of the Nazarene on the subject of property and material things. The hidden agendas behind some of these should be obvious. His language is too simple and plain: follow the simple life, free of worry, and trust to the Father to provide your elemental needs. He clearly taught and lived the divestiture of all “things.” To that small circle of his Apostles, he said:

Luke 12:32-33 [NCMM] 
‘Fear not, little flock, for your Father has approved of giving you the Kingdom. 
Go and sell everything and give charitable gifts (to the poor).’ 

This he also taught in the parables of the pearl of great price and the hidden treasure. (Matthew 13:44-46)
The same theme runs through Paul’s writings:

1 Timothy 6:6-10 [Phillips Modern English]
‘Reverential devotions along with contentment are great gains. For we did not bring anything into the world and it is for sure we are not leaving here with anything. But, having food and clothing, we will be satisfied and content with just these. However, those who are resolved to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many hurtful things which sink them to the bottom of ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a source of every kind of evil and by resolving upon this kind of love some Christians have been seduced and distracted from the faith, inflicting themselves with many pains.’ 

These words are very similar to those of the Nazarene’s parable:

Mark 4:18, 19
‘And other seed are those sown among the thorns. These are the ones who heard the Word but the anxieties of this Age, and the seduction of riches and the desire for things, choke the Word and it becomes unfruitful.’ 

Paul does not give commands for rich believers to divest themselves of their wealth, but he does give these “orders”:

1 Timothy 6:17-19
‘Lay this charge to those who are rich in this Age, not to be high-minded but to put their hope, not on non-existent riches, but upon God. Work at good. Be rich in fine works. Distribute well to the needy. Be ready to share. Treasure up a fine foundation on the Future and thus attain Life in reality.’ 

Under such a charge, the rich who claim to belong to the Nazarene Community of Christian Saints, or the Christian Church, must look well to their charitable spirit, lest they experience shipwreck of the Faith. This is an individual decision which other believers should never criticize.
However, Paul’s disposition was clear. He wrote,

Philippians 3:8
‘I consider all things a complete loss because of the priceless privilege of knowing the Christ, Jesus my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of everything, considering all of it lot of dung that I might gain Christ.’ 

In 2 Corinthians he echoes the Nazarene’s spirit,

2 Corinthians 8:92
9 For you know the favour of our Master יהושע {Yahshua}Messiah, that being rich, He became poor for your sake, so that you might become rich through His poverty. 

Further, Paul writes in words that could have come from the Nazarene:

Philippians 4:11-13 [The Scriptures]
11 Not that I speak concerning need, for I have learned to be content in whatever state I am. 
12 I know what it is to be humbled, and I know what it is to have in excess. In any and every situation I have learned both to be filled, and to be hungry, both to have in excess, and to be in need. 
13 I have strength to do all, through Messiah who empowers me.

And another time,

Hebrews 13:5 [NCMM]
5 ‘Let your life-style be free of the love of money, satisfied with the present things. For He has promised, “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.”’ 

HOW DID THE DISCIPLES RESPOND?
Did the Apostles and those later disciples of the Nazarene take this so literally? How did Peter, John, James, Paul and others live as adherents of Messiah Yahshua the Nazarene?

The historical account in the Book of Acts makes it clear they took the Nazarene quite literally:

Acts 2:44-46; 4:32-35 [NCMM]
‘And all the believers were together and had all things in common. Their goods and possessions they sold322 and distributed them to everyone as they had a need. They shared food in gladness and simplicity of heart. And no one claimed any of his possessions as his own but all things were common among them. For neither was anyone needy among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses, sold them and they brought the value of the things sold and laid them at the feet of the Apostles. And it was distributed to each according as any had need.’  

This was the ideal Paul recommended to the rich and urban Corinthians. He relies on Moses for this:

2 Corinthians 8:12-15; Exodus 16:18 [NCMM]
‘For if the eagerness is there first it is proper according to what a person has and not according to what a person does not have. Not that I want to be hard on you and easy on others. But, just for now, if your surplus was equalized, you could compensate for their lack, so there should be some kind of equalization. So it was written (regarding the collection of manna), “The one with much did not have too much and the one with little did not have too little.” 

Paul outlines the standard for the Nazarene Community: social and economic equality by mutual sharing in a classless community of Saints. Obviously all the above can only come about among a people genuinely selfless and in love with humanity. It is not something everyone can or will do.
This does not mean there were not rich and propertied Christians. The Corinthians are an example of such. However, this communal sharing in equality was on a volunteer basis. This was to be a personal choice without judgmental criticism or reverse snobbery. But, there is no ignoring the fact that when the rich are mentioned it is either in a negative context or couched in what can only be described as extreme caution. (Matthew 13:22; 19:23, 24; Mark 10:5; Luke 6:24; 8:14; 12:16, 21; 16:16, 19, 22, 23;1 Corinthians 4:8; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; James 1:10, 11; 2:5, 6; 5:1; Revelation 3:17)
 The earliest example of this kind of warning involved the Christian couple, Ananias and Saphira, who hypocritically sold some property and gave the appearance of contributing all. However, they held back some of the value of the sold property. Peter says they played false to the holy spirit and as a result both died. (Acts 5:1-11) Peter does establish in his condemnation of Ananias that this was voluntary despite what might appear to be peer pressure from the Nazarene Community, ‘As long as the property remained in your name did it not belong to you?’ The couple’s sin was not one of refusal to share their property, but lying about it. This case ought to stress the serious danger of hypocrisy as well as that principle found in the Nazarene’s teachings. (Matthew 6:3, 4)
 Paul questions the rich Corinthians, so slow in fulfilling their year-old promise to use their riches to help needy brothers,

1 Corinthians 4:8, 11
‘You are already filled and satisfied? You are already rich? You are ruling like kings, and without us? Down to this hour we apostles continue to hunger and thirst and to be poorly clothed and to be homeless and unsettled.’ 

Some did not ‘share with the Saints according to their needs.’ (Romans 12:13) Paul mentions this to the Philippians:

Philippians 2:20; 4:15, 16
‘All the rest are seeking their own personal interests and not those of Yahshua the Messiah… When I departed from Macedonia not a congregation shared with me in giving and receiving but you Philippians alone. Yes, you sent something not once, but twice, for my need.’ 

Paul, like the Nazarene, did not take advantage of the hospitality of his brethren for in Acts we find him working as a tentmaker for a brief period about the time he visited Corinth and Thessalonica. For he writes to the Thessalonians,

2 Thessalonians 3:6-11
‘You know how you ought to imitate us because we were not disorderly, nor did we eat food free, but night and day we laboured and worked so we were never a real burden on anyone. We used to give this instruction: “If anyone does not work neither let him eat.”’

This does not mean the Christian minister or teacher who has responded quite literally to the Nazarene’s teachings at Luke 12:33 is not “worthy” of some stipend or hospitable assistance. For Paul quotes the Nazarene to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 9:6-14
‘Do I not have authority to refrain from secular work? Who is it that serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants and does not eat the fruit? Who shepherds and does not drink the milk? If we have sown spiritually why is it so big that we reap physically? However, in your case, we have not used this authority, though the Lord ordained that those proclaiming the good news could live by the good news.’  

There Paul alludes to what Yahshua said to his disciples when sending them forth,

Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:7
‘The worker is worthy of his wages and food.’

Paul again uses this principle of the Nazarene with Timothy:

1 Timothy 5:18
18 ‘For the Scripture says: “The workman is worthy of his wages.” 

Indeed, there is much to learn about Christian economics in the two letters to Timothy: the caution regarding riches; and, financial responsibilities to family and others. In part some of these injunctions include:
a) caution regarding expensive dress (1 Timothy 2:9);
b) elders not to love money (1 Timothy 3:3);
c) deacons not given to greed or dishonesty (1 Timothy 3:8);
d) recompensing parents and grandparents (1 Timothy 5:4);
e) providing for family members (1 Timothy 5:8);
f) double honor to hard-working elders (1 Timothy 5:17);
g) warning against taking advantage of religion (1 Timothy 6:5);
h) warning regarding love of money and riches (1 Timothy 6:9-19);
i) balanced view of making a living (2 Timothy 2:4).

Interestingly, in all of this, Paul never makes use of the Nazarene other than Luke 10:7. For example, he does not use Yahshua’s instructions to the apostolic “little flock”:

Luke 12:32, 33
‘Sell everything and give charitable gifts.’ 

This would have been a strong argument to present to the Corinthians or others. Unless the precise injunction of Luke 12:33 was directed specifically to that “little flock” of the Twelve. It seems reasonable to assume that the Nazarene’s anti-materialistic themes are not intended to violate that care of family and others which is inferred in God’s own command to Adam and Noah:

Genesis 1:28; 8:17; 1 Timothy 5:4, 
‘Be fruitful and multiply.’ 

In addition to this, Paul encourages those disciples and learners of the Nazarene’s teachings,

Galatians 6:6 [The Scriptures]
6 And let him who is instructed in the Word share in all that is good, with him who is instructing. 

This kind of charity was common both in the Jewish and Greek world and judging from Paul’s own life-style this counsel did not mean maintaining a “teacher” in a luxurious manner. (2 Peter 2:1, 13) Paul would not expect it, and neither would the Nazarene.
In the Book of Revelation, we have the Glorified Master, upon his inspection of the congregations, warning the lukewarm Laodicean presbyter,

Revelation 3:17
17 ‘You claim, “I am rich and have gotten wealthy and I have no need at all.” But, really, you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.’

The Nazarene had not changed in his disposition toward riches and the love of money.
However, it is left to the Master’s brother, the disciple James, to give the most stinging denunciation of the selfish rich. Note the following from a variety of verses in the letter of James which echo parts of the Sermon on the Mount or the Plain Teachings:

James1:9-11 [NCMM]
‘Let the brother in humble circumstances glory in his high estate as a Saint, but the rich at being reduced in circumstances. Because as the flower of the fields, the rich shall pass away. For as soon as the sun is up with its scorching heat and dries up the grass and the flower withers, its lovely appearance ruined, that is the way the rich will fade and die in the midst of their pursuits.’ 
James 2.4-6 [NCMM]
‘Are you not drawing class distinctions in your minds and proving to be critics with evil motives? Listen, God chose poor men whose only wealth was their faith and the promise as heirs of the Kingdom by the God that loved them. But you rich in contrast have insulted, humiliated, dishonoured and shown contempt for the poor. Is it not the rich who grind you down and domineer you? Are not (the rich) who drag you into law courts?’ 
James 4:13-17
‘Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we will go into this city, spend a year there, go into business and make money,” although you do not have the slightest knowledge of tomorrow. Your life, what is it? You are no more than a mist, seen for a little while and then disappearing. You ought to say instead, “If the Lord is willing329 we shall live and we shall do this or that.” But, as it is, you pride yourselves on your pretentions. All such pride is wrong. The principle is this: that whosoever knows what is right to do but fails to do it, he is guilty of sin.’ 
James 5:1-5
‘Listen to me, you rich men, weep and wail for your hardships which are coming on you. Your wealth has rotted and your fine clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is tarnished and their rust shall be a testimony against you, biting into your flesh like a fire! You have piled up wealth in an Age331 that is near its close. Behold, the hired workers in your fields, they cry for their wages, which you have been fraudulently keeping back. They are crying out against you and their cries for help have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived in luxury and dissipation here on earth. You have gratified your appetite, fattening yourselves for the day of slaughter.’  

The last few pages are enough to document what the Nazarene taught about daily material needs. How the apostles responded to it and how later disciples copied the Master’s life-style and teachings. The entire testimony of the Scriptures reinforces the simple principle of the Nazarene: lead a simple life free of anxiety and put spiritual priorities first. If you consider living a life without anxiety and without those modern industrial diseases brought on by a competitive financial world interested only in profits and greed — Yes! If you consider your family and loved ones more important than your credit limit or check book balances — Yes! If you consider a longer life without stress — Yes! If you compare the alternative of humble discipleship to the Nazarene with the promise of wealth in heavenly proportions — Yes! If you consider first service as a disciple of the Nazarene and selfless giving to your neighbours as part of your worship of the heavenly Father — Yes! If you want to have the freedom to read and meditate on the Nazarene’s teachings — Yes! If you wish others learn of the Kingdom hope taught by the Nazarene — Yes!
Make your humble prayer: ‘Give us our bread for this day.’ (Matthew 6:11) Then live your life in harmony with your sincere petition.

Mark Heber Miller
Nazarene Commentary 2000

Used by permission