Consider the Lilies


The largest single body of the Lord’s teachings are found in what we call the Sermon on the Mount.  Matthew records this message in Mt. 5-7.  Among the many topics that the Lord discussed in this great discourse was His exhortation to not be worried about the mundane affairs of life (Mt. 6:24-34).  Then, as now, many people were consumed with worry about how they would live from day to day.  This worry not only robbed them of the joy of living, but was also a sign that their priorities were not right.

In v. 24 the Lord said, “No one can serve two maters; for either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and wealth.”  He followed this statement in v. 25 with the exhortation to not be worried about the essentials of life.  This suggests that the two are related.  That is, if our master is wealth we will likely be consumed with anxiety over whether we have enough to take care of our needs.  This anxiety is due in large part to the fact that we are not truly servants of God.  It suggests that we don’t trust Him to provide for our daily needs.

The Lord illustrated the folly of such anxiety with the admonition to “Consider the lilies” (Mt. 6:28 — KJV).  He pointed out that these flowers of the field do not toil, and they do not spin.  Even so, the Lord said that even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of them.  The imagery here is powerful.  Solomon was one of the wealthiest men to have ever lived, and the splendor associated with his reign is legendary.  Yet, in the Lord’s view the simple lilies of the field were more glorious and beautiful than he.

Most of us would agree that the beauties of nature far surpass any man-made beauty, no matter how ornate it may be.  The truth of this is seen in the fact that one rarely sees, much less buys, a calendar with photos of the lavish accoutrements of the rich.  Instead, we are more likely to see a calendar with photos of fields of wild flowers, or forest scenes, or snow-capped mountains.  This is because there is simply no beauty as wondrous as that which God created.

The Lord’s exhortation to consider the lilies was more than a call to enjoy the beauty of nature, however.  It was to show the people just how much God cares for them.  In v. 30 the Lord said, “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!”  Here’s the point: the flowers of the field are unimportant in God’s eternal purpose, yet He cares for them in spectacular fashion.  If He would do so for these expendable things, how much more so will He care for mankind, whose souls will live for eternity?

In v. 33 the Lord gave His divine prescription for the kind of anxiety that grips most of us.  He said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  If we have our priorities properly set, we will trust in the God who provides for the lilies of the field.  We will do so because we know He considers our souls to be much more important than flowers or any other aspect of nature.  As a result, we will not be obsessed with concern for our daily well-being.

It is easy to become caught up in the hamster-in-the-wheel grind of daily life.  If God is not our master, we can expect to worry.  However, if we consider the lilies we will remind ourselves that our Father in heaven has promised His providential care for all who belong to Him.  And with that knowledge, we will have peace.