A little while back I learned the word for groceries in German – Lebensmittel. Lebensmittel is a compound word consisting of Leben (live) and Mittel (medium or “means to”). So when you put these words together in English groceries are a medium or means to live. In class when this clicked in my head I realized the subtle difference between something being a means for life and a means to live. Since that day have come to understand that Leben means both life and live, but the premise of this post remains the same.
What is the difference between “means for life” and “means to live?”
Quite simply I think it is this:
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
- -Matthew 4:4 (bold added)
Jesus doesn’t say we live only on the words of God, but he says that we also do not live on bread alone. We need food to live….that’s it. Technically the only reason we have to eat is to get nutrients into our body so that it can function at the level in which it is supposed to function. That is food (Lebensmittel) as a means to live. We need it to live and….done!
Unfortunately I know I and many others use food as a means to life. As soon as I am done eating breakfast I often time find myself thinking about lunch. Why? Because food is what I revolve my life around. It is how I experience life. My brother made a joke last summer when we were in Alaska that is very fitting for this topic. He said most people come to Alaska to see the different wildlife, but I came to eat it. It’s true, I wanted to try as many different kinds of meat as I could.
That in and of itself isn’t bad, but if that is all my life is focused on then am I really full of life? I’m probably full of food, but not of life. This is the same for anything. What is filling your life? What should be filling your life? It doesn’t have to be a bad thing to take up too much of your time/energy/thoughts, it just has to be consuming. We are to live every day to the fullest for Him who has blessed us with that life. Use food/family/sport/work as a means to live, not a means for life.
There is only One who is our means for life.