Lilies of the field

“And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30).

All people possess a few basic needs: food and drink, clothing and shelter, something to do, someone to love, and a reason to hope. We pray about these things when we ask our Father for “daily bread.” It might seem natural to worry about these things, even to be anxious about them, but Jesus tells us that such worry is not natural. When we live according to the human nature God created—our nature before it was contaminated by sin—we accept what we have as peacefully as flowers accept what they have. We do not ask ourselves how we are going to obtain more.

Jesus remarked that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” Now Jesus adds that outward beauty is given even to the grass of the field, “which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven.” Most of us do not use grass as fuel, but in western Asia wood is scarce and therefore is too valuable to be burned. When Jesus speaks of fire, he never mentions it lightly. Fire pictures eternal punishment. Jesus assures us that even those who will end in judgment’s fire will have their needs met today. God does not care less for those who trust in him, those who will spend eternity with him in a perfect new creation.

In the present world, which is not perfect, people sometimes face poverty, desperate need, and starvation. Every day more than enough food exists in the world to meet the needs of every person, but it is not distributed evenly. Therefore, Jesus encourages us to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and even care for people in prison. We help God keep his promises to care for his people, even as God also cares for birds and flowers. As we help our neighbors, we are not earning God’s blessings. The blessings of God remain free gifts—and that is one more reason we do not have to worry.

We are not among those heading for the fire. We are of great value to God. Therefore, we need not worry about the things of this world. We need not worry about our physical needs, nor about whether we have done enough good things for God, or even whether we have enough faith. Jesus calls us people of little faith, but little faith is enough faith. The size of our faith does not matter; the power of the God in whom we trust matters. God keeps his promises even to those who have only a little faith.

Unlike the birds, we sow and reap and store in barns. Unlike the flowers, we toil and spin. We use the talents and resources God gives us to take care of ourselves and to help one another. Through all that we do, we remember God and his promises. Our eyes are on Jesus, not on ourselves. For that reason, we do not have to be anxious. J.

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