Life-Giving Words – Matthew 4:4

“But [Jesus] answered,
‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’”

Matthew 4:4

These words stopped me in my tracks today. Even with as much as I’ve heard and read them over the years. God pulled back the curtain to reveal something more – and I love how He does that.

Every word that comes from the mouth of God is life-giving to us. Every word.

Even the things that are confusing. Things we can’t wrap our minds around. Things that don’t seem to fit with what we would expect or prefer, or with what society or others tell us should be.

This is what Jesus seems to be laying on my heart for us to focus on today. A reminder of where our life comes from. A reminder of how vital the words of God are to us, to our well-being. Assurance that even if it seems like following what He says might hinder us or go against what makes sense, even if we don’t understand why He says what He says, His words and commands – all of them – pour life, freedom, goodness, and hope into our soul.

I read a statement a few days ago by someone who had abandoned their faith in God. It seemed that they couldn’t grasp the concept of a good and sovereign God in the midst of a broken world where bad things happen, or a belief that people could go to hell and God could still be loving. They couldn’t see a connection between what they perceived of God in the Old Testament with what they perceived in the New Testament.

I understand the questions. These are solid theological considerations, and not ones to be passed over or bottled up simply because they can be complex. It just makes me sad that in this person’s searching, they weren’t satisfied with any answers they found. It’s like they just couldn’t see the truth of God’s love in our brokenness or the depravity in our sin, or perhaps rejected it because it wasn’t what they wanted to hear. Because honestly, sometimes we don’t want to understand why something bad has happened; we just want it not to have happened. And anything less than taking it away is not acceptable. I know I’ve felt that way, and it took some honest wrestling (and a good dose of humility) to rest in the Lord and experience His peace again.

In our studying of the Word of God and our search for truth, particularly in the aspects that are difficult to understand, the perspective we come from makes a big difference.

Do we approach the Scriptures grounded in the belief of what God has declared about Himself? That He is good, righteous, sovereign, patient, kind, loving, just, and wise? That He is light and there is no darkness in Him (1 John 1:5)? That He is God, and cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 6:17-18)?

This allows us to consider confusing things from the standpoint of what we know about God and His character. It’s like when someone we have a good relationship with does something that surprises us. Maybe they respond more harshly or more lenient in a situation than we think we would. Since we know them, we’ll likely filter that response through what we know about them and frame our reasoning as to why they responded that way according to those other details. We might try to find out more about the background of the situation. Or ask them and see if they can shed light on what went into their thought process. But in the end, if we trust this person and their character, we will trust their decision even if we don’t understand it.

God does not do anything, or command anything, outside of His character. But it is within all of His character. If all we want to see in Him is mercy, then we will object to anything He does out of justice. If all we want to see is justice and Him holding wrong-doers accountable, then we will object to anything He does out of mercy.

These words, all that is written in Scripture, are His. Chosen with purpose and wisdom to reveal who He is – with all the depth and complexity and glory and greatness of His being. Accounts of His faithfulness, wisdom, and justice. Unfathomable acts of a love that cost Him greatly – love that cost Him His life, to satisfy justice and the wrath we deserved for our rebellion.

So in coming to His Word, we make our foundation His character and truth, so we can understand it from His right perspective.

And we bring with us Jesus’ words from Matthew 4, that the words we read contain life. Whatever they are, there is abundant life to be found. Believing what He says, doing what He says to do, orienting our life around His way of thinking – it will bring life and nourishment to us that we cannot substitute elsewhere.

I feel like this post might come across as jumbled. Like two separate things mashed together. But my heart feels a connection.

Our God is good, and loving, and just, and His every word is life-giving. Period.

This is the truth with which we approach Scripture. So that no matter what we encounter in His Words, we know this is the foundation and we wrestle with them in that light. Laying down our expectations and preferences because we trust that His Word is life and light and freedom and hope and salvation. He is God and holds all truth. And He is good and desires life for us. So we can trust Him, whatever He commands. He will not lead us wrongly. He is not unrighteous in His actions, unkind in what He calls us to do, or unfeeling in how our story plays out. He weeps and aches with us. He understands. He hears. And He is faithful.

“You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes.”

Psalm 119:68

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.”

Psalm 89:14

“The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing…
Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.”

Zephaniah 3:17, 19

“And when Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, he said to them, ‘Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life”
Deuteronomy 32:45-47a

“The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.”

Psalm 19:7-11

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