Hello from Kathy Collard Miller in the sunny desert of Southern California.
One of my main memories from several years ago when I was in bed from a bad back for nine months was feeling unproductive. It seemed at the time unexplainable that God wouldn’t want me to be working for His glory. And if you’re like me, we can easily feel like we need to earn God’s approval. After all, aren’t we supposed to work for God’s glory? If I’m not doing something for Him, it seems like I’m being disobedient. And even unloved and “un-approved.”
But reading Matthew 6:25-26 gave me a different perspective. Remember these verses?
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
How many times had I read those verses and yet I saw a different twist. The birds don’t accomplish anything and yet God provided for them.
In the past, I just saw the persepctive that they were helpless and needed God’s help. And He graciously and lovingly provided. But then I focused on how they don’t sow, they don’t reap, and they don’t gather into barns. They don’t accomplish anything and yet God favors them with provisions.
As accomplishment-oriented American Christians, and I think it can apply to people all over the world, we think we’re pleasing God with our accomplishments. We think we’re glorifying God with our accomplishments. And we think we’re convincing God to work on our behalf because of our accomplishments.
But God created the birds of the air to do nothing except pick up the seeds off the ground that God provides. (OK, they do build nests but that’s not to provide food!)
Let’s read another portion:
And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! (Matthew 6:28-30).
Jesus continue making his case for why we shouldn’t worry. Now He is using the lilies of the field as His visual aid. And can’t you just picture Him as He’s speaking with thousands watching Him?
This portion is a part of the Sermon on the Mount. He’s outside and standing on the ground. There may have been actual lilies or other flowers on the very ground where they were. Maybe there was a beautiful field of flowers near by, brightly colored in the sunlight. Jesus already pointed to the birds overhead and now He’s pointing to the lilies. What a brilliant teacher. He uses things that will remind these followers every day of His points.
And His point? The lilies don’t toil nor spin. They don’t do anything to earn God’s provision and favor and yet God decorates them more beautifully than how Solomon was dressed, with all his glory and riches. Then He solidifies the point by reminding them of the temporary “life” of the grass. One day is alive and the next day it’s thrown into the furnace. Chances are, there was lots of grass that the people were sitting on. Point made!
Birds, lilies, and grass don’t do anything to work for God’s love, favor, and approval, and that’s why Jesus says don’t worry about anything. He doesn’t provide, bless, and favor us because we earn it. He provides, blesses, and favors us because we are His children, and as Jesus says, we are more valuable than any of those creations.
We all can sometimes still feel like we need to do and accomplish things in order to help God along or show Him how we deserve His provision or favor in some aspect of our life? Or we may sometimes feel like we need to worry otherwise things won’t go right or well.
Jesus says He’ll provide for us because He’s a loving Daddy. He wants us to trust Him regardless and trust Him fully with every aspect of our lives. Just like He does the birds, lilies, and grass.
Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today is the latest book, non-fiction, from Kathy Collard Miller and her husband, Larry Miller. Their goal is to help Christians identify the self-protective, sinful strategies which prevent them from trusting God and living in His power.