Matthew 6:28-32 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things. And your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”
In God’s creation, about the only thing more lowly than grass is the dirt from which it grows. In ancient Israel, wood was in short supply, so grass was often used as fuel for their ovens. We trample on it, mow it, turn its clippings into compost. It exists only days, maybe months, and then it’s gone.
We are destined for eternal life. If God dresses certain kinds of grass more beautifully than kings, can’t we trust him to take care of our basic needs?
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” Jesus concludes. “For the pagans run after all these things,…”
If we were as ignorant as the unbelieving, then our worry might at least be understandable, if not right. Their gods are just figments of their imaginations, if they worship any gods at all. They aren’t all-powerful, all-loving providers like our God is. Since the pagans have no certainty they will be cared for, and since they have no certainty of a heavenly future, their life is all caught up in getting things for themselves now. They are obsessed with making as much money as they can, advancing their careers, owning the finest homes and cars, visiting exotic places, experiencing all the finest the world has to offer. No matter how much they have, they are nagged by concerns to carefully guard and protect what they have. Worry that they could lose it all, dread of what the future holds, chases them every day.
While the Lord may lovingly bless us with many of the same earthly treasures the pagans have, it is inappropriate for children of God to obsess about such things the way that they do. It is incompatible with Christian faith. If we decide to let ourselves get caught up in worldly possessions the way the pagans do, faith cannot last long.
And Someone else has made these things his concern on our behalf: “…your heavenly Father knows you need them.” If you were to interview children, they could give you a long list of things they would like to have. They might even say they “need” many of the things. I suspect their list would be dominated by toys and playthings. Ask their father, and he is often able to sort out the difference between their “needs” and their “wants” better than they are. I don’t believe most children would put “semi-annual trip to the dentist” on either their “needs” or their “wants” list. At dinner time some of them may want dessert. A father know that they need the vegetables on their plate first.
Our God is not like a government bureaucrat or company bookkeeper in a far away office making out checks for people he doesn’t really know with a vague idea that they need this to support themselves. He knows us as intimately as any father, as though we were his only child. He can sort out our needs and our wants better than any earthly father, and he distributes both to us just as he knows best.