When God first rained manna from heaven onto the children of Israel, he told them they had to eat it all in one day. That is a curious thing to tell someone, akin to telling them not to plan ahead, and to be honest I find it a bit troublesome.
Everything in my training and everything in my bones tells me to take charge of my own future. My generation and those behind us know from the simple demographics of the matter that we will not get our shot at the passel of government safety nets that graced the generations before us. We must save and invest for our own well-being. Eat your manna today and let tomorrow take care of itself? I don’t think so.
I can even find scriptural support my position.
“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” (Proverbs 13:22)
“Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord? … He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. (Psalm 25:12-13)
“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord. … Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.” (Psalm 112:1-3)
“He who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” (Proverbs 13:11)
“For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.” (II Corinthians 12:14)
So what do we do with Jesus’ statement to “take no thought for tomorrow”? Or the prayer to “give us this day our daily bread”? Or Paul’s instruction, that “having food and clothing, with these we shall be content”? (I Timothy 6:8)
We need to remember something about the Israelites as they were leaving Egypt, and something else about the people of the first century. The Israelites were used to being slaves. They were used to the burden of hard labor, but in exchange for their servitude they knew they would get at least a pauper’s ration that would keep them alive. It wasn’t much, but as slaves they came to depend upon those crumbs every day, and like most on the slave side of a slave/master relationship, they were apprehensive about losing what little certainty they had in life.
By giving them a daily ration of manna from heaven, God was showing them that he was now their master and would provide their every need.
During the first century, the people of the Middle East were in their own kind of slave/master relationship. Poverty was a fact of life, and the teachings of Jesus and the apostles pointed once again to God as the great provider, He really would supply all their needs, so, you first century Christians, be content with your daily bread. You are of more value than the sparrow and more precious in God’s sight than the lily of the field.
Yet it is also evident from other scriptures that if we have the opportunity to plan our futures and prudently accumulate some wealth in order to help others and keep from being a burden them, then it is not only our right but our responsibility to do so. But always remember the source of that wealth. “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.” (Psalm 24:1) “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work-this is a gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:19 NIV)
Those scriptures call to mind the prayer of Pa Anderson in the movie Shenandoah: “Lord, we cleared this land; we plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. It wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eating it if we hadn’t done it ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank the Lord just the same for the food we’re about to eat. Amen.”
Even though I want to plan for tomorrow, I have to take the facts for what they are. None of us has any guarantees. If we, like old man Anderson, think we are doing it all by ourselves and all for ourselves, then we are leaning on a weak reed indeed. The lesson is to do what you can and do what you must. Plant the seeds and trust God for rain. But if there is no rain, trust God even more.