The Feeding Of Birds: Faith
Last Monday I started a series on let the birds of the sky be our teachers. This is based upon on our Lord’s words to us to “behold”, or ” take a good look, or to study the birds”. Believers are to be bird watchers by our Lord’s instruction to us (Matthew 6;26).
This week we find the birds teaching us faith. That is, to trust God in all things, to trust Him for the supply of everything that we need. We are not to worry of these things. He isn’t speaking here of wants. That’s a completely different subject. The following are the words of Jesus:
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his ispan of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, 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 of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”(Matthew 6:26-30)
I found a doggerel which records a conversation between a robin and a sparrow;
Said the robin to the sparrow,
‘ I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so’
Said the sparrow to the robin,
‘Friend, I think that it must be
They have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me.’
This is a wonderful sentiment, but it is not an accurate teaching of our Lord. Jesus stated that He is our Heavenly Father. That if He cares for His creatures ( such as the sparrow and the robin above) how much more will He care for His children.
I hear often these verses misinterpreted . Studying, I have found 3 common misunderstandings.
1) Jesus was not teaching us to have no forethought
What He taught was for us not to be anxious, or do not worry. I’ve often heard it taught that we needn’t plan for the future; but the Bible itself teaches us to do so. The reason we are to imitate the ants (Proverbs 6:6-8) is because they store their summer bounty. Many birds do the same. Many woodpeckers store acorns for the winter in trees and telephone poles. Other birds pierce insects on thorns for their winter feeds. There are many many other example of food storage by birds and other creatures.
Jesus is not teaching us not to save and prepare, but is forbidding us to worry about it.
2) Jesus did not mean that His children are guaranteed protection against all accidents.
It is true that God knows when one sparrow even falls to the ground (Matthew 10:29).
But sparrows do fall to the ground! Baby chicks do fall from their nests! We as humans also fall and injure ourselves. Sometimes we are involved in auto accidents, plane crashes, and a myriad of other tragedies. But the promise from Jesus is that nothing can harm us without our Heavenly Father’s knowledge and permission.
3) Jesus does not teach us in this passage that God’s children can sit back and do nothing, leaving it all in God’s hands. Even the free gift of eternal life, which Christ has secured for His people, must be greatfully received by us. In every sphere of our lives it is evident that we have to co-operate with God, just as the birds teach us.
So how does God feed the birds? The answer is, He doesn’t feed them as we feed our pets. Jesus was a great watcher of nature and wildlife as we see in Scripture. He knew that birds fed themselves. Some eat insects, some berries, seeds, and fruit. Others eat fish while others eat flesh. Some suck nectar from flowers, while others eat worms and even snails. So what did Jesus mean to teach us? He meant to teach that indirectly He feeds them. He provides the food for them to go and gather for their needs. They must go flying around and work for their own food to feed themselves. The Psalmist said to God ” These all look to You to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up (Psalm 104:27-28).
Our teaching today from the birds is that faith in God is not incompatible with co-operation with God. We know that ultimately our food and all provisions come from Him. This is the reason we daily thank Him for it. But we are still dependent on farmers and fisherman and retail stores. When we are injured or sick, we certainly pray to God to heal us. But we also go to doctors if need be and accept their treatment recommendations.
The first lesson we learn from the birds is this: faith and works go together. Not in salvation, which is by faith alone, through grace alone. But in everything else we both trust God and take the necessary action to take what He provides through the appropriate action.
Next Week, Lord willing, the birds will teach us repentance.
Until tomorrow, keep your eyes on the birds. They have much to teach us.
By His grace alone,