Old familiar teaching. Fresh new meaning. In the past, it has evoked a warm-fuzzy feeling and a sense of profound gratitude. This morning, for some reason (me thinks a Spirit led reason), it provokes a heightened sense of awareness and a bit of soul searching. Who knew ravens and lilies could do such things?
Continuing to read in Luke 12 this morning. And what hits me initially is that, while the audience and illustrations are different, what I’ve just read is but a continuation from yesterday. Then, Jesus was talking to a crowd when He told them the parable of a rich fool. This morning, He’s talking to His disciples, to His inner circle, and tells them stories from nature. And I realize that, in essence, he’s talking to them about the same thing.
His followers weren’t necessarily entrapped by what to do with the harvests of overflowing fields. Their’s wasn’t “the problem” of having such wealth that, on a whim, they could build more barns so they could set themselves up to sit on their keisters, eat, drink, and be merry. No, they were unemployed fishermen, tax collectors, and such. Instead of worrying over how to silo an abundance of wealth, their daily anxieties were more likely to be spawned by how to put food on the table and keep clothes on their back.
And what hits me afresh this morning is that, regardless of whether it’s covetousness for an abundance of possessions (12:15) because you have overflowing barns, or whether it’s covetousness for daily bread and clothing because you don’t have two coins to rub together, either way it can deflect from the main thing being the main thing. From laying up treasure in heaven (12:21a). From being rich toward God (12:21b). From seeking first the kingdom (12:31a). From storing up “moneybags” for eternity (12:33b).
Yesterday, Jesus identified the problem of bad soul talk. But this morning he points to the remedy of ravens and lilies.
And [Jesus] said to His disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! . . . Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith!”
(Luke 12:22-24, 2-28 ESV)
Sure, it’s encouraging to know that we are of more value than ravens. And it’s comforting that the God who clothes the lilies which He created, says He’ll clothe the children He has re-created by His Son’s finished work on the cross. But beyond encouragement and comfort we need conviction — that God means it! That He’s got us. That He’s really got us! That our daily needs, in fact, rank high among His daily concerns. That anxieties about what the day may bring — especially these days — need to be given to the One who feeds ravens and clothes lilies, so that we are not tempted to enter so much into self-preservation mode that we cease being in kingdom-seeking mode. That our concerns for daily safety don’t extinguish our desire to store up treasure in heaven.
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
(Luke 12:34 ESV)
Hmm. Ravens and lilies. Worth noodling on. The Father’s promise of daily provision and protection. Worth believing in. Heaven’s coming kingdom. Worth living for.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
(Luke 12:32 ESV)
By His grace. For His glory.