the Flowers of the Field (c) 2007 muddart
“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
In my last post I wrote about the “birds of the air” and how in the original language, the passage has the idea of fixedly observing the birds, as contrasted with casual observation. I then considered whether Jesus might have been speaking more than rhetorically, and actually suggesting that his hearers go out and intently observe the birds.
But he did not stop there. In the passage above, the word translated as “observe” likewise is not a casual observation, but has a fuller definition of “to learn thoroughly.” From a literary perspective, such compelling language, used in a parallel structure, strongly suggests that Jesus was indeed urging his hearers to go and personally take time to meditate upon the birds and how they live and eat, and upon the flowers and how they grow and flourish. How do they accomplish what they do? How do they do their amazing feats?
In the observation of these things the answer is hidden on how to not be worried or anxious or stressed about this life and all its most important concerns.
Have you ever taken some time to carefully study the birds and flowers in light of these questions? What did you learn? If you never have, why not try it? Let me know what you find out.
The Birds of the Air – (c) 1999 Muddart
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.