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? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? – Matthew 6:25-27
Recently, I came to the conclusion that this passage and its context could easily be studied for a lifetime. I myself have been meditating rather intently on it for a number of years now, and I continue to find greater depths to its underlying meaning.
It began some years ago when I was going through a long period of very tight cash flow. Every payday, when I had to figure out how I was going to make a little money go a long way, I would sit down with this passage to try to quiet my soul and get peace in the midst of uncertainty about the future. I learned a lot of things both from these verses and the ones that follow them.
Did you know, for instance, the Greek word that is translated as “look” in this passage actually means to “observe fixedly?” Or that there are other Greek words used elsewhere to denote more casual observation? When I discovered that this was the literal meaning, it got me thinking: maybe Jesus wasn’t speaking rhetorically, maybe he was actually suggesting to his disciples to go and intently observe the birds. Maybe he was telling them, and me as well, that if we went and carefully observed the birds we would learn something about how not to worry, and how instead to trust God to supply our needs. Have you ever meditated on the birds of the air? What did you learn? If you never have, it’s worth the try.