Jesus says in John 6:27, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures.” This is a verse that does not need a lot of explanation. We all know that Jesus was the master when it came to metaphors. He would use words and examples that were well known in order to open up understanding of a deeper meaning. Some of His comparisons are hard for us to find the truth lying below the surface because the description is no longer relevant or practiced in the 21st century. For example, Luke 7:32, “They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; We mourned to you, and you did not weep.”” The basic meaning of this verse is easy, “No matter what I do, it will never be enough.” Understanding the customs and culture of the 1st century Jews gives this verse many layers. Laboring for food, however, has not changed. If we want to eat, we need to do something to earn food. On the surface, Jesus is saying that if we are going to be working anyway, why not work for something that will last awhile. We all agree with that logic; Why work just enough for a cracker that will feed for a minute when a little more effort, a little more time will put enough food in the frig for a week? If you agree and try your best to live by and to teach your children this principle, good job! Keep it up! But remember, the week also will come to an end.
Jesus always challenged his disciples to look past the present, past the near future, and see all things as eternal. He wants the same for us. John 6:27 does not end with the word endures but continues with, “endures to everlasting life.” Do we always think in these terms? Do we put forth our best effort with eternity in mind? This morning I went to watch Olivia play basketball. After her games, we always talk about how it went. This morning I mentioned her hustle, how it picked up after the first quarter. I always talk to Olivia about her willingness to hustle no matter the score, or how many baskets, or mistakes she makes. I don’t care about how far Olivia advances as a basketball player, but I do care about how she spends the gifts God has given her. Jesus tells us to labor for the food that endures, but He does not care about the amount of food in our refrigerators. He wants us to focus our eyes on eternity and let that be the motivation behind what we choose to give our efforts to, and the amount of effort we spend on those choices.