Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 6:28b “Consider the lilies of the field,. . .”
“Lilies of the field” was likely a generic reference to all wild flowers. Our Lord Jesus appreciated nature. This is understandable. He created it.
At the end of His six days of creation, God took time to gaze with pleasure on “every thing that he had made” (GN 1:31). He thereby taught us by His own example to dwell on His wonders. Admiring the creation is a God-like quality.
God made His creation beautiful, to be enjoyed. He could have created only utilitarian things, but added details which provide, from a human perspective, only aesthetic value. Much of the creation is practical, necessary for our bodies to exist, but parts of the creation serve only to bring pleasure and delight to eye or ear.
Flowers prove God loves and appreciates beauty. Wilberforce called them “the smiles of God’s goodness.” Every blossom was imaged in God’s mind before He crafted it. He first conceived and then designed every petal and leaf. Flowers are thus the thoughts of His mind as well as the works of His fingers. A poet described them as “God’s thoughts of beauty taking form, to gladden mortal gaze.”
Some people express no interest in nature’s beauty. This is sad. I was this way 34 years. As my mind began to be set right and healed of depression, my view of nature was also set right and healed. Learn to enjoy God’s splashes of joy.
God made His creation utilitarian, to be helpful. Valuable lessons are ever before us, staring us in the face. God built into creation vital lessons we can learn for living, if willing to open our spiritual eyes, and notice the obvious. Seek God’s education in God’s creation. Look closely and learn well, even from speechless flowers. They are beautiful, to be admired, but also utilitarian, to be learned from.
Matt. 6:28c “. . .how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:”
Flowers never worry, though they can do nothing to help themselves survive. “They toil not.” They cannot labor in a field to plant and harvest flax or cotton. “Neither do they spin.” They cannot manufacture thread from raw materials.
Out there among thorns and rocks, flowers survive with no human to assist them. They are on their own, except for God, and He is enough. In Winter they lie dormant below frost and snow, yet in Spring come up. Does worry cause this? No, God does. Learn the flowers’ lesson. Look closely, and see happiness in their serene loveliness. They never fret, come flood, drought, heat, or cold. They pass through adversity without care. Calm and tranquil, flowers do nothing at all, except trust in God. They totally depend on Him for provision, and find it sufficient.
Let God do for us what He does for flowers. Trust, depend, do not worry. If God cares for flowers, His gifts to our race, will He not be much more mindful of us, the recipients? His care for the gift implies His care for those it is intended.
Matt. 6:29 “And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was
not arrayed like one of these.”
Solomon’s lavishness was proverbial. Of all Israel’s kings, he was by far the richest, most glamorous, and best dressed. Yet Jesus said all of Solomon’s debonair wardrobe was not as elegant as, and could not supersede, a small wild flower.
We must be very careful in analyzing Jesus’ meaning. One small wild flower cannot be deemed more impressive than the regalia of a reigning monarch. The pomp and ceremony of a royal court can be absolutely breathtaking. However, if we stripped away all Solomon’s trimmings, underneath would be simply a human being like any other person. Solomon’s glory was man-made, artificial, contrived. A flower’s glory is God-made, authentic, naturally flowing from an inner essence.
True life-beauty comes only like a flower’s glory, by trusting God to unfold loveliness from inside us by means of the Holy Spirit. “Let not your adornment be external only–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, and putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 P 3:3-4 NAS).
It is silly and useless to be conceited or worried over clothing and other outer trappings and finery. The highest glory and beauty we can outwardly produce on our own pales in comparison to the lowest of God’s work flowing from in us. For all our worry, bluster, and bravado, when we have outwardly done all we can to ourselves, we still can not do as much as God can in one small flower or in us.
Though claiming to think otherwise, we act as if the value and glory of life comes from outside us. We worry most about external things–clothes, titles, jobs, honors, position. Often at all cost, including the sacrifice of principle, we desperately try to climb the social or corporate ladder. There is nothing wrong with using legitimate means to improve our station, but genuine value and glory in life flows from God inside us. The fount of life-beauty must emanate from within us. Look inside, to the indwelling presence of God, to find the source of genuine life.
Flowers teach us how to succeed in life. Their glory is the outgrowth of an inner process, an unfolding from within. No paint, no covering, no gilding with silver or gold, a flower is exactly what God makes it from the inside out. We too must yield self to God from the inside out. We have the right to do all we are enabled to do outwardly, but only after we have inwardly yielded ourselves to God. Be spiritually steady and stable within. Then genuine beauty will rise, and last.
Without this divine inner core, this holy internal integrity, a person, however impressive on the outside, is hollow in the middle, and the winds and trials of life will inevitably reveal this inner emptiness. I once lived in a suburb which had as its prize tree a majestic 300-year-old oak, but when the remnants of Hurricane George blew through, that tree crashed to the ground, revealing a hollow center.
This pictures what befell Solomon. He was a capable administrator, a wealthy and succesful man, outwardly having all a man could possibly want, but he lacked inner conviction. At his core, he was empty. Yielding to sexual perversion and idolatry, he ultimately became an embarrassment and a liability to his country.
External trappings will not do in the long run of life. All outward finery is glamor and glitz, gilded vanity. Whether one is a preacher, a deacon, a Sunday School teacher, a king, a president, a CEO, a father, a mother, or whatever else, there must be at the center of one’s essence an honest and stabilizing tranquility base. There has to be trust, a central calm, a central integrity, a central beauty from which peace, strength, and loveliness spread throughout the personality.
Worry is ugly; peace is beautiful. Dishonesty repels; integrity attracts. Inner ungodliness, exposed, is loathsome; the beauty of holiness is winsome. Shallowness, once revealed, makes people want to avoid us. Long-term depth of character makes us a blessing to others, and draws them to us. Over the years, people gravitate to people of inner peace, strength, and beauty. Our greatest blessing to others is not what we do for self outwardly, but what God does for us inwardly.