Question: "What does it mean that life is more than food (Luke 12:23)?"

Answer: The highest priorities of the believer’s life are loving God and seeking His kingdom first (Matthew 6:31–33). Unfortunately, in our frail human state, we tend to worry too much about the everyday concerns of this life. Worry distorts our perspective and redirects our attention. We focus on meeting temporal needs instead of dedicating ourselves to kingdom pursuits. In Luke 12:22–34, Jesus teaches His followers not to be anxious about worldly concerns like food and clothing: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes” (Luke 12:22–23).

Having food to eat is important—a necessity for survival (Genesis 28:20–22; 1 Kings 17:12). We cannot sustain life without food. Solomon tells us that eating and drinking are God’s gifts for our enjoyment (Ecclesiastes 2:24–25; 3:13). But life is more than food—it is not the main event or the object of center stage. Nevertheless, worry blinds us to the truth that God will take care of His creation (Matthew 10:29–31; Luke 12:6–7). God wants us to trust Him to provide everything we need as we give ourselves to kingdom service (Philippians 4:19).

God promises always to bless His faithful ones with a sufficient supply of food (Leviticus 26:3–5; Deuteronomy 11:15; 12:7; Psalm 128:1–2; Proverbs 13:25; Isaiah 1:19; 65:13). In the wilderness, God fed the Israelites with manna from heaven (Deuteronomy 8:16; Psalm 78:23–29). He brought them to live in a rich and fertile land flowing with milk and honey (Joshua 24:11–13; Isaiah 7:22). The learned psalmist observes, “Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread” (Psalm 37:25, NLT).

God cares for the birds in the sky and feeds them. He makes the wildflowers grow and become beautiful. Surely, He will take care of His children, who are worth far more to Him than birds and flowers (Matthew 6:25–34). The Scriptures aren’t implying that we sit around idly and let God meet our needs. Instead, we must trust God and not worry as we co-labor with Him, pursuing His kingdom (2 Thessalonians 3:6–15).

If we can say, like Jesus, “Life is more than food,” it means we understand that toiling for necessities is not our chief aim. Instead of putting our confidence in self-provision, we trust God as our provider. After Jesus fasted in the wilderness for forty days and nights, the Bible says He became famished (Matthew 4:2). The devil came and tempted Jesus to depend on His own resources, saying, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matthew 4:3, NLT). The Lord’s answer showed His wholehearted dependence on God: “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4, NLT). Jesus would not misuse or misdirect His power to provide for Himself and satisfy His hunger.

Jesus lived to do His Father’s will only (John 6:38). Once, after a long journey without food, the disciples urged their Lord to eat. But He told them, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about” (John 4:32, HCSB). Then Jesus explained, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” (John 4:34, HCSB).

As human beings, we are often tempted to take matters into our own hands—to function independently from God and provide for ourselves. We may become preoccupied with hoarding food and supplies before a storm. Perhaps our sense of security hinges entirely on the figure in our retirement account. We worry about inflation, unemployment, gas prices, and food shortages. But life is more than food. God calls us to recenter our priorities—to trust in Him. Instead of being anxious, we should remember the apostle Paul’s encouragement: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7, NLT).