The Bread of Obedience

Let’s consider bread for a moment. Think about the varieties of shape, sizes and uses that fill our grocer’s shelves. White bread, whole wheat, mixed grains, rye, and sourdough come to mind quickly.  But beyond the standard sliced bread are hamburger and hot dog buns, garlic bread, french loaf, baguette, dinner rolls, and biscuits. There are flatbreads such as pizza crust, pita, and tortillas.  But wait there’s more.  Donuts, danishes, pancakes, cinnamon rolls, HoHos, Twinkies, cakes of all types are also forms of bread. Is it any wonder that bread is called a staple and the staff of life?  

As important and pervasive bread is in our everyday diet Jesus reminds us, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ”” (Matthew 4:4, NASB95) This verse is Jesus’ response to Satan’s first temptation, enticing Jesus to use his rightful power to make food for His own need. The verse Jesus quotes is found in Deuteronomy, “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:2–3, NASB95)  This goes beyond simply hearing the Word of God but being obedient to its commands. Jesus said in the Gospel of John, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:34, NASB95)  Satan’s temptation went beyond the enticement for Jesus to satisfy his hunger. Satan’s temptation was for Jesus to use His ability outside of His Father’s commands and purpose.  

Our bread, the staple, and staff of life, for our walk with Christ is likewise “every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” As Jesus said, it is more than just hearing or reading God’s word but walking in obedience to it. Somehow we get this really narrow idea of what obedience to God’s word means. What I’ve discovered is that there are as many ways to walk in obedience as there are kinds of bread. In every moment of life, there is a place for God’s word and a way to follow Christ. Obedience is so much more than staying away from certain sins, reading the Bible occasionally, and attending church. Obedience is all about how we treat each other, the compassion we show our enemies, the willingness to demonstrate Christ in our actions and responses even when our appetite desires to be satisfied through bread of our own making. Obedience touches our money, our time, our loves, and our desires. Well, actually, none of those things are really ours, are they? 

While I was writing this article one song kept ringing in my head. Keith Green’s “To Obey is Better than Sacrifice.”  My hope and prayer for you today is that this article and this song will challenge you to go beyond sliced white bread and dive into the variety of living every moment with and for Jesus.

To obey is better than sacrifice
I don’t need your money
I want your life
And I hear you say that I’m coming back soon
But you act like I’ll never return

Well you speak of grace and my love so sweet
How you thrive on milk, but reject My meat
And I can’t help weeping of how it will be
If you keep on ignoring My words
Well you pray to prosper and succeed
But your flesh is something I just can’t feed

To obey is better than sacrifice
I want more than Sunday and Wednesday nights
Cause if you can’t come to Me every day
Then don’t bother coming at all
La, la, la

To obey is better than sacrifice
I want hearts of fire
Not your prayers of ice
And I’m coming quickly
To give back to you
According to what you have done
According to what you have done
According to what you have done


To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group


Dale Heinold
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