By Ryan Shaw
To reveal the Father’s faithful commitment to care for our every need, Jesus lifts our eyes to the air (vs. 26). He guides us to observe the birds living free from anxiety in relation to their food.
Birds build their nests from the natural means about them and seek out the worms they need to sustain themselves and their young. Many birds faithfully migrate to warmer climates during the winter in order to have the substance needed throughout the year.
Jesus is not forbidding planning for the future nor taking sensible steps for our own security. He is rebuking our propensity to be anxious & worried in such concerns. Wise consideration of the future is right while consuming, tormenting, distracting worry is not.
The point Jesus is making is that birds are provided with food apart from incessant striving and anxiety in the process. They are out working hard and beyond their own abilities God supplies for their needs.
Birds are much different than believers in the way God sustains them. Human beings have much more advantage and skills then birds do. Birds cannot “sow, reap and gather” like human beings, yet they have what they need.
Hudson Taylor once said “The use of means ought not lessen our faith in God and our faith in God ought not to hinder our using whatever means God has given us for the accomplishment of His own purposes.”
Human beings are responsible to use the variety of means that God has provided for our sustenance and provision. This is sometimes referred to as secondary causes. God has set up processes for our provision which include our cooperation to labor.
Next, Jesus brings focus to our need of clothes to cover ourselves (vs. 28). To provide a helpful example He brings attention to the lilies of the field. Again, it is important to repeat the emphasis is not that all care for clothes is forbidden.
It is good and right to work hard, honestly and with integrity to have clothes necessary for the type of social circles, climates and situations God has placed us in. What Jesus is focusing on is two-fold:
First, the fear and worry that somehow we will not have the clothes necessary for our place in life and second the tendency toward pride and covetousness in securing status through clothes.
Jesus again uses a common thing in nature to teach His disciples. He stresses that the lilies tend to obey God more than disciples do. We who have been blessed with intelligence and enhanced understanding compared to they still tend to be less obedient to the will of God.
Our attention is directed to observe how the lilies grow. In the winter they lie dead yet spring up during the springtime with leaves, flowers and great beauty. To produce this beauty they neither “toil nor spin.”
Lilies don’t have ability like human beings do. They are free from worry and anxiety yet God clothes them in an utterly beautiful manner. How? Through a complex process of drawing sustenance from the sun and the soil.
Jesus’ argument is that if God so clothes these beautiful flowers will He not also clothe us? The lilies have only a brief existence – just one day. As soon as they spring up they are dying. They come and go and this is part of the natural cycle.
We, however, as born again disciples of Jesus, are eternal and will live with God forever. If God so loves and cares for something lasting for only one day, how much more will He do for those He has purchased by His own blood.
Meditating and receiving the overwhelming love and value God places upon us as His beloved sons and daughters is one of God’s primary ways of helping us overcome worry and anxiety.
The Father loves the creation but it is not created in His own image as we are. This should move us with great adoration of a God who loves human beings with an eternal love and will also take care of our needs related to clothes.