As part of Jesus’ model prayer, he prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread”. (Matthew 6:11 ESV) Literally, the word translated “daily” means something like “what is necessary for today”. Thus, Jesus was teaching us to ask God to provide us with what we need to exist today. In the following sections of Matthew 6, Jesus continually reminded his followers to trust God to provide what we need for today.
Similarly, James taught us:
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? (James 2:15-16 ESV)
Again, if someone is lacking in the necessities needed that day, and we have the means to meet that need, then are to provide for them. Apparently, we have more than is needed for today; someone else has less than is needed for today; so we take from our excess (that is more than is needed, not more than is wanted) and give to our brother or sister.
Something happened this week that helped me see that we don’t know what it means to ask for or to share based on “necessities”. We still think luxuries are necessities.
There was a major water main break in a town just north of us. This water main was part of our county’s water system. The county lost 1.5 million gallons of water and had to replace the water main. This is a devastating loss in the middle of a drought – at least, they’re calling it a drought.
Because of the drought and possible contamination due to the water main break, the citizens of our county have been instructed to boil their water. Also, citizens have been instructed not to use water unnecessarily: i.e. do not water lawns, do not wash cars, etc. Many restaurants have been closed for the last few days because of the water restrictions and because they cannot boil all of the water that they use.
The news has been constantly covering this story. They have interviewed almost every person in the county, except us. Everyone who wants to complain about the water restrictions and the closed restaurants and the dry lawns and the dirty cars has been given a microphone and 15 seconds of air time on the 6 o’clock news. We need our water…
But, we still have water. This is not a problem of necessity. We have water. This is a problem of luxury and convenience. Instead of being grateful for having water just by turning on the faucet, we are complaining because we have to boil it. Instead of grateful that we are not dying of thirst, we are grumbling because our yards (I mean, our lawns) are brown. Instead of being grateful that we do not have to walk miles to find water, we are angry because we can’t wash our cars.
We are pathetic. We do not know what it means to be in need. We do not know what it means to be grateful for having our needs met. Therefore, I do not think we know what it means to meet someone else’s needs.
Good news! The water restrictions have been lifted. Now, we do not have to boil our water. People can return to their favorite restaurants. Lawns will be green and cars sparkling clean by tomorrow afternoon. Perhaps, now, we will find it in our hearts to give a glass of water to a person who is truly in need. But, probably not.
God have mercy on us.