Matthew 6:19-21, 24-34
“Look to the creatures of the air; they neither plant nor reap, yet God cares for them.” And, "Consider the lilies of the field, they don't labor nor spin, yet God provides their needs.”
I suppose that’s fine if you’re a flower or a bird. I’ve never known of a bird to have a mortgage… or a flower that had family problems! Have you? What could they possibly have to be anxious about?
We… on the other hand, have plenty to worry about! We have homes to maintain… mouths to feed. We have responsibilities! Things like medical issues… insurance… college tuition… taxes to pay, and elected officials to complain about.
We live in an age of war… and rumor of war. The world around us is a hostile place… where children can’t feel safe at school… and churches have to lock their doors, and install security cameras, because to do otherwise would be irresponsible.
There are way too many things in this life that cause us stress and worry… too many to even mention!
Yet Jesus’ words have echoed clearly across the ages: “Who by being anxious can add a single day to their life?”
So what’s Jesus getting at here? To say, “Don’t worry about your life” sounds more like wishful thinking than a solid theological truth, doesn’t it?
Of course, Jesus is not saying that we should live our lives without concern! He never says to “be like” the birds or the flowers! They don’t worry about tomorrow because they can’t comprehend it! You and I can’t be anything other than what we are! And being created in the image of God, we can feel, and think, and reason, and create. All of which can lead us to worry.
And besides… if you’ve ever loved (a child, a spouse, a parent, a friend) you’ve experienced (at least a degree of) worry.
I don’t believe for one second, that God expects us to just turn off the emotions he’s given us… and to start living carefree lives that fail to offer concern for others, or even or ourselves for that matter. Being good stewards of what God has given us includes, to a large degree, being concerned enough to act… to get involved… to do something! We simply cannot afford to pretend we have no responsibilities. That, in itself, would be an act of irresponsibility… and faithlessness!
So what does Jesus mean when he said "consider" the lilies of the field and the birds of the air? The point in considering the birds and the flowers is that in the process of their daily existence… God cares for them.
The birds and the flowers are simply doing what they were created to do! And in the process, God provides their needs.
And if God cares for them… if the Creator of the heavens and the earth provides for the wrens and the weeds… how much more will God care for us? His Children.
Of course, this is one of the cornerstones of Christian faith. God’s providence and God’s provision. Since God provides for birds which are a dime a dozen and wild flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, then how much more will our Heavenly Father care for us? The very people he loved enough to die for!
That doesn't mean we shouldn’t be concerned about the future… or that we shouldn’t prepare for tomorrow and plan ahead. We still have to act responsibly. But we don't have to worry. Not because we are oblivious, but because we know that God will provide. We plan and work NOT because we’re anxious… but because we trust in God's provision.
How liberating and comforting to know that I can prepare for the future, and I can plan for tomorrow… but I don't have to worry about it! Come what may, there’s no need to be anxious about life…
Because the one who has numbered our days… the one who loves us with an everlasting love… the one who gave his life for us… holds our past, present and future, in the palm of his mighty hand!
Which brings us to something else Jesus said. He said "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth ... but store up treasures in heaven." Jesus wants us to appreciate and acknowledge that it’s God, and not ourselves… or our bank account, or job, or our church, or even our family that’s the ultimate source and supply of our provision! Our provider is God himself! And God’s providence is reason enough to entrust our lives to his care.
Jesus points out that the things of this world will pass away. In this world moths and rust and the whims and fragility of life eventually win. But what we entrust to the Kingdom of God endures for eternity.
It’s true: "You can't have two masters - You can't serve God and the ways of this world." At the end of the day, when it’s all boiled down… if you and I live according to the ways of the world, we’ll always be worried about what’s ahead - just out of view.
But when you and I learn to trust the providence of our God… as he is faithful to provide… he’ll give us exactly what we need…