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This question can be restated as: how to interpret Matt 6:25-34 where Jesus tells us not to worry about food and clothes. Is it a promise that a Christian will never die for lack of food? Or is it not?

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Has a Christian ever stubbed his toe? Psalms 91:11-12 –  David Englund Oct 2 '13 at 13:20
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@DavidEnglund Dying of hunger is essentially different from stubbing your toe. You did not answer my question. You don't have to, but don't try to make it look ridiculous. –  drhab Oct 2 '13 at 13:55
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@drhab, it was just a joke. –  David Englund Oct 2 '13 at 14:17
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It should be noted that the people to whom Jesus was speaking when He said this were not Christians, but Jews. One could not really be called a Christian until after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. –  Narnian Oct 2 '13 at 14:41
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7 Answers 7

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is 95% Christian. The recent conflicts have killed as much as 5.4 million people. A summary of the details states,

more than 90% were not killed in combat, dying instead from malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition, aggravated by displaced populations living in unsanitary and over-crowded conditions that lacked access to shelter, water, food and medicine.

One could argue that the death toll is wrong, and some people have done so. Or, one could argue that for the deaths that were due to malnutrition and starvation were only among the remaining 5% who weren't Christian. One could also argue that the statistic is inaccurate by saying that those who died weren't real Christians. None of that seems convincing to me. At least one Christian died from hunger-related causes in that conflict.

For individual, anecdotal cases, you may refer to this list. Perhaps none were Christian. Thomas Johnson seems like one, but maybe forced starvation doesn't count? Granted, one can explain away individual cases all day, so I prefer the statistical answer, but sometimes both are useful.

My tongue-in-cheek comment, "Has a Christian ever stubbed his toe?" is intended as a joke (for which I meant no offense), but it's related to this issue. Coming from the same chapter as my glib (and probably bad) joke, Psalm 91:3 states,

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.

If you interpret verses that insist on God's protection and provision as being for our physical needs, you will only be right some of the time. Christians die from car accidents; Christians die from cancer; Christians die from starvation.

What did Jesus mean in Matthew 6? I'll suggest emphasis on his question in the last part of verse 25, "Is not life more than food?" Surely food is required for life, yes? He is not referring to physical food. In John 6:35, I think this is more clear:

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Jesus did not claim that those who follow him would never go (physically) hungry.

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Who is Jesus petitioning here?

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life.

He is petitioning His followers and urging them to seek first the Kingdom of God, which is found by grace through faith. In John 4:23 we read:

“…true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him”.

If being a Christian assured one that they would not starve then Jesus would be saying something like: "Do you not know that once I complete my work upon the cross you will become a Christian and as a result you will not be able to starve?"

Since this is before the completed work on the cross one should question the viability of holding such a statement to a physical constraint and should not be directed to Christians only.

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The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.

Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

Psalm 37:23-25

I do not have a statistical answer, but I do have a promise from the Word, which is worth more than gold.

Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and PROVE me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:8-10

This is a promise which I have lived and continue to live until this very day. He has poured out His blessings and I am thankful for His mercies.

EDIT:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:33

To answer your question plainly, based on the other biblical support, I believe we should interpret it just as it is written. Do not worry about food and clothes because the LORD will provide the means. This does not mean that we should not work and just go to church everyday. What this means is that if we entrust God with our daily duties, putting Him first everyday, He will take care of the details. As the Hymn says,

God will take care of you, through every day, o'er all the way; He will take care of you, God will take care of you.

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I always like Biblical quotes and like to read your faith... but this doesn't answer the question. –  Wikis Oct 2 '13 at 14:58
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@Wikis Understood, I will edit my answer. Thank you. –  jlaverde Oct 2 '13 at 15:46
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Whenever you are interpreting Scripture, context must always be considered to avoid deriving the wrong meaning from it. In those verses quoted above (Matthew 6:25-34), notice that verse 25 begins with the word 'therefore', meaning that the statements about to be made are in reference to what has just been stated. In verse 24, Jesus had been speaking about how we cannot serve two masters. He was dealing with the issue of giving God priority and not being preoccupied with the things of this world. In verse 33 this point is clearly expressed when He says that we should seek God's Kingdom and righteousness first and all these things (the necessities of this world, including food and clothing) shall be added unto us. This means that our receiving provision for these things is predicated upon our fulfilling the condition of seeking the Kingdom first and His righteousness. It does not come automatically. So if a Christian is not meeting the requirements, that's the only time he can fail to see the results. God's promises always consist of two sections: our part and His part.

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Do Not Worry means you should not be worried about anything. Right now in the economy, families are struggling because of bills and bad economy. People are sacrificing their food just to pay bills and travel fares. And what about ones with family? they need to starve just to feed their families. If they don't eat how would they work? so should they use the remaining money to feed their family or themselves so they can continue to work?

This is why Jesus said do not worry about it all. For if you worry you will be doing overtime, begging for money, getting loan and having 2 jobs. But by believing and just trusting in Jesus...he shall surely make a way out.

Last month I was paid less and I thought, "ok time to make sacrifices, i won't be going to a bible study on weds, and I won't pay my tithes because I need money to survive for the rest of the weeks till i get paid". A work mate/brother said to me I had no faith, he was right so I totally committed everything to the Lord. And yes the Lord got me through till I got paid, Is till paid my tithes but I did not attend the bible studies for reasons. the Lord allowed me to get money from someone and also being fed by others.

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Nice to hear that. I wish you strength in all this and in my prayings I will mention someone called 'user6008'. He will definitely know who is meant by that. By the way, what is 'tithes'? I am Dutch and do not know that word. –  drhab Oct 3 '13 at 10:39
    
tithes 10% you pay to churches. It means 10% of your earning increase. Abraham was the first to pay tithes to Melchizedek (please read Genesis 14). By doing so God introduced a law that the Jews MUST tith to his house and to levi. But we're no longer under Law but under Grace. You can give as much as you want, more or less. If you earn £100 wages you need to pay £10 (IF UNDER LAW), because tithes is 10%. SINCE we're not under law, you can pay ANY amount you want. more than £10 or less, if you earn an example of £100 as your wages. tithing is basically 10%. –  Xino Oct 3 '13 at 11:31
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When you look at the passage in question, who is Jesus talking to? Everyone who reads it?

He was talking to the disciples there during His ministry in the first century. Jesus was a nomadic preacher, and so if you wanted to sit under His teaching and play a role in what He was doing, you could not at the same time be working in a "normal" job. In that passage, He was reassuring the disciples that leaving their normal livelihood to follow Him would not result in their physical needs going unmet.

So the fact that some of the people currently dying of various causes are probably Christians does not contradict that passage.

To the person who mentioned the Congo: the major problem there is prolonged war. People are going without food because they are busy killing each other. Which is not a very Christian thing to do. Even if the promise in the Sermon on the Mount was addressed to them at all, they are not "seeking God's kingdom and His righteousness" - they are seeking the cause of "our tribe gets to be the last one standing." 95% Christian? I doubt it. Most of those people are heathen animists, with a veneer of Christianity over their unconverted culture and beliefs.

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True Christians die of starvation everyday on this planet. It is estimated that 10,536 people starve to death each day. That equals 1 person every 8.2 seconds. Yes, simply because that number is so large, it is statically guaranteed that there are 100% believers included in those daily death rates.

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No, that's the whole point of the question. It is not guaranteed, is God sparing the Christians? That is the question. –  Wikis Oct 10 '13 at 11:43
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