Question:

Question

Answer:

I have been trying to figure out Matthew 6:25-34 for five years now without success, but came across your website, and am quite curious about your perspective.  Of particular interest is verse 26.  How does God actually feed the birds, and how does such have an application to Christians since we must work for a living?  And, what about droughts and famines that claim the lives of many birds, which fact makes the Messiah’s colorful language rather troublesome and hardly inspiring?


"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:24-34).

Speakers give illustrations to clarify a point. While it is being used for that particular point, it is accurate, but any illustration can be stretch beyond the original application to the point where it no longer remains meaningful or accurate.

Jesus' point is that each person must decide who is most important in their life. That one decision will impact every other made thereafter. Are we going to serve God or riches (mammon)? Jesus anticipates a common objection to serving God: "But I have to work so I can eat." It is not that working is wrong; we all are required to work in order to eat (II Thessalonians 3:10). But should work come before everything else? That is the point Jesus is addressing.

He then uses the birds to illustrate his point. They do not plant the seeds which they eat. They do not herd the insects they eat to raise them for food. They don't even save food for use at a later time. But they manage to survive anyway. Does this mean they don't work at all? No, observe any bird and you will see that their day is constantly consumed with gathering food for the day. Still, they don't work to produce the food. It is available to them because God made the world with an abundance to supply them with food. Birds take life as it comes, one day at a time.

If you think about it for a moment you will realize that man started out much the same way. Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden which was filled with every kind of fruit and flowering tree (Genesis 2:9). At one time man had the opportunity to live with his food supplied, but he sinned and lost his access to the garden (Genesis 3:24). A part of the consequence of Adam's sin was that men would have to work. "Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:17-19).

Jesus' point is that while we must work to provide for ourselves, we don't have to be consumed with concerns about the future. God sees to the needs of even the birds, He will see to our needs as well. Worry and concern isn't productive, especially when applied to things we can't control, such as our height. Well, the future is out of our control as well. Worry or overachieving to make sure every possible circumstance is covered in the future is not productive either. Should we set things aside? Most certainly! It is a reasonable thing to do. However, I know I cannot cover every possible future event. For that I must trust God to handle for me because it is out of my control.

Thus we have two choices. I can make riches a priority in my life, stockpiling large quantities of money away to cover every foreseeable event -- and still fail. Or, I can make God a priority in my life, do the best that I can with my life, and know that God will take care of me when things get rough. The latter means I'm going to make some choices that might see odd to those in the world. I'm going to attend church services even during those times I could be out making money. In fact, I will not select a job, even if it is good paying, if it required me to miss services. I'm going to skip those events that allow me to cozy up to the bosses because there is drinking going on, so I might not get promoted as fast, but I am going to take every advantage I can to be with my brethren.

Jesus' point cannot be properly stretched to claim that Christians are going to be protected from disasters in this world. Notice that he said "Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34). Each day has enough trouble of its own without borrowing extra troubles from the future. Droughts and famines might come. We might be persecuted: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:10-12). A Christian can have joy, even in the face of persecution, because the Christian's view is not focused on this world. A worldly minded person sees disaster when the stock market crashes because this life is all he lives for. The child of God can lose everything and buoy his spirits singing, "This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through." Sure, things will be rough for a while, but God will take care of His children and see them through. Even if death comes and my journey in life must end, it just means I enter the sweet rest of God that much sooner. "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience" (Hebrews 4:9-11).

From a worldly point of view, putting God first seems strange and self-defeating, but a Christian understands that it is the greatest insurance plan in the universe. You see disasters strike the Christian and non-Christian alike, but a Christian has someone to lean upon in times of trouble. Thus, the child of God can live without undue concern about the future much like the birds.


See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Terminology in the Bible
Questions and Answers regarding the Christian Lifestyle