Do Not Work for Food That Spoils

Part III of our series on Sharing Your Bread

Why did Jesus feed the 5,000 according to our last post?  Not because they were hungry.  But because he was mirroring his Father’s goodness to them.

Now here’s something interesting: In John 6:2 you can see that Jesus knew that the crowd was there for all the wrong reasons—but he fed them anyway.


Because God doesn’t react to other people. He always acts in ways that are consistent with his loving, gracious character, no matter how people might distort or misinterpret or misuse those actions.

And he calls us to follow him in acting in exactly the same way. We’re to mirror him and his goodness into the world just as he mirrors the Father and the Father’s goodness into us.

Now look closely at the command Jesus gives us in John 6:27. It will be key to our understanding how to mirror his Work of Mercy of sharing bread into the world:

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.

What exactly does that mean?

Well, first let’s talk about what it doesn’t mean.

Jesus is not saying, “Quit focusing on feeding your body. Instead, feed your spirit.” That’s not what Jesus says in John 6:27. Remember: Body, soul, and spirit are equally important to develop in Christian discipleship. So let’s re-read the verse carefully, focusing specifically on the two different types of food Jesus contrasts:

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.

The two kinds of food Jesus contrasts are not physical food and spiritual food.

Both kinds of food that Jesus talks about here are physical! The difference between the two types is that one kind spoils, but the other kind endures to eternal life. What does Jesus mean by physical food that endures? What kind of food is that?

Consider another Scripture that has to do with things that spoil:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Jesus is clearly talking here about physical treasures—our money and our possessions. He says that if we store up treasures on earth, they will “spoil,” but if we store up treasures in heaven, they will “endure.”

How do we store up treasures in heaven? By using our money and our possessions to strengthen body, soul, and spirit equally, not just to strengthen our bodies.

So how can we apply that same principle to food that spoils and food that endures to eternal life? By using our food and our meals to strengthen body, soul, and spirit equally, not just to strengthen our bodies.

Jesus said that the crowd was working for food that spoils.

What does it look like to work for food that spoils?

It looks like doing a job in order to get money to meet our physical needs.

This is one reason people have such a hard time tithing, by the way. They think, “Look, I need this money to care for my physical needs.” Bad thinking. If you use your money only to care for your body, it will not endure. It will spoil.

How can you use your food and meals in such a way that your body, soul, and spirit are being strengthened?

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is the former International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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