Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Matthew 6:28-30 - "And why are you anxious about clothing?"

Jesus deals similarly with our anxiety about clothing as he did with our anxiety over food. He directs us to the creation that God cares for, this time to the "lilies of the field." Most commentators agree that these are probably the wildflowers that spring up in abundance apart from anyone's gardening care. God clothes these common flowers with a beauty that they did not have to provide for themselves.

What astonishes me about this passage is that Jesus approaches our anxiety over clothing by talking about God as the Creator and Originator of beauty. In other words he knows right away that our main concern about clothing is whether we'd look nice, and he goes overboard to reassure us on that point. Really, how indulgent is that? You'd expect that he would view clothes as something that merely covers us or warms us or shields us from the weather. "Observe the fur of goats, how it grows. You see that God covers the goats and keeps them warm. How much more will he cover you?" Then we'd all dutifully brace ourselves for being covered by God all right--just looking ugly. Of course we'd all do our best to be grateful that we are at least clothed. Besides, bearing with ugliness is a good spiritual discipline. Very humbling, you know.

Well forget that, because Jesus uses the wildflower as an illustration, not goat's hair. Oddly, he doesn't even try to come up with something that illustrates both function and beauty, such as bird feathers. ("See? Keeps you warm and looks great too!") He goes straight for the most exquisite thing he can think of, a wildflower that exists primarily to startle you with its beauty. "Even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these." His point is that when you release your anxiety about clothing over to God, you're putting yourself in good hands. God knows that our concern centers not merely on having something to put on, to put a barrier between skin and the elements, but on whether our personal dignity will be protected too. He know we're anxious about the social aspect of being clothed in something appropriate and presentable. Yeah, he gets it.

Jesus then lets us in on a little secret about God. God values beauty for beauty's sake. He doesn't mind investing his artistic talents into clothing the fields with his wildflowers even when he knows they will all be gone the next day, cut down and tossed into someone's fireplace for fuel. Why does God bother? Why does he make flowers grow in far off places, forgotten hilltops and valleys that will never be seen by the human eye? Apparently he does it for his own enjoyment. He likes making beautiful things just so he can look at them. It's a part of his nature. So how much more will he do for us, his beloved children, who are more precious to him than weeds, and are destined not for the furnace but to dwell with him in the kingdom forever?


  1. I love that "beauty for beauty's sake". And one day we will be presented "as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband" !!

  2. God does love beauty... and that's why we love beauty, because we are created in His image.