Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:25 – 34 is one of the more notable passages on the topic of worrying in the Bible, and a similar passage can be found in Luke 12:22-34; particularly of note is the similar Luke 12:24, with just a minor difference in phrasing – Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Christ was a master preacher, adept in using parables and analogies, and in this instance, in using the birds as analogy, he has successfully established a very solid and convincing foundation to the argument of why we should not worry.
Look at the birds of the air – Birds are generally perceived as small creatures, and they not only represent small creatures, but are also a species of animals with the one ability that humans are envious of – flight. With that ability they are able to fly freely in the air, and are seen far more often by the people than most other non-domesticated animals. Birds may possess what men do not, but they are still creatures, and they are so common that they are not worth much – Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? [Matthew 10:29] Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns – have you owned birds before? If you have, you’d most likely had it in a birdcage. I honestly haven’t seen anybody who owns a bird without a cage. I’m sure they exist, but at a risk. Their ability to fly makes them unrestricted to the boundaries of men. If you close your gates, your cats and your dogs cannot run out, but your bird can still fly out. Unlike land animals, birds are not restricted to a certain area, where you can make sure that the ecosystem of that certain forest is working naturally, and the land animals will have their source of food. Most importantly, they do not labour – unlike most land animals, which traditionally has been used as farm help. Unlike men, they do not sow or reap or gather.
And yet our heavenly Father feeds them – what have they done to earn their daily meals? Have they labored? Have they stayed put? No, but our heavenly Father still feeds them. Psalm 147:9 says he provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. Even such small creatures the Lord will provide for, what more us, his best creations? No man will truly neglect his children for the sake of taking care his birds – and why do we fear such a thing from God? Will the birds of the air ever run out of food? God will provide for them, always. That alone is proof that he will not neglect taking care of us.
Are you not much more valuable than they? – I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine [Psalm 50:11]. God values every bird in the mountains and all the creatures of the field, and knows them all. Yet, two sparrows are but just worth a penny – who teaches more to us than to the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the air? [Job 35:11] We are superior to the birds of the air, we are not just more valuable than they are, we are much more valuable. Why do we worry about our needs when God even looks to the needs of the smallest of creatures? The birds do not dow or reap or gather, they do not labour; and more likely than not, we do. We have even fewer reasons to worry about our needs.
I personally do not like birds. I dislike them at times with a vengeance. I stay away from them; I eat them (chicken, goose, duck etc); I don’t even bother hiding my disgust at them in front of others. I often said, ‘I believe that all birds should die and be eaten up’ – it’s much of a hyperbole, of course, but I thank God that he probably doesn’t agree with me. I do not value birds at all – but God does. I honestly can’t think of any substantial reason why birds are of any use or of any good (then again, I’m extremely biased against them. I’m sure you can think of plenty of good cases for the bird). But God does not need a reason to feed them. Reason? Well, they are his creations. That’s reason enough.
The line of logic here is that, if God can show such mercy and aid towards birds, who are but just flying creatures, then surely God can show us such mercy and aid too. What, then, are we worrying about, when our needs and wants have already been accounted for. The direct context of this verse adds a lot more substance to this argument, but at the end of the day, why worry? The birds surely do not worry about their lunch. Why then, should we worry about so many unnecessary things? All we need to do is to put our trust in the Lord. Just like those birds.