For the Birds…
For the Birds
When I think of birds, probably the last thing I think about is them being rich. Seriously, who would ever associate monetary well-being with these winged creatures. Do they have a socio-economic hierarchy that escapes us? And if they did, what would they rank themselves on, the size of their nest? Perhaps there is a delicacy of worms that humans are unfamiliar with. Could you imagine a television show dedicated to the finer feathered families, “Flights of the Rich and Famous.” I digress.
My attempt to make this preposterous illustration is a segue for a Biblical truth that has never been more important than it is today.
Our culture, our world seems to revolve around money. More importantly, in an attempt to satisfy our desires, we seek financial well-being as the vehicle. We long to be rich.
For some, our longing for richness is loud and boisterous, for others, it is secretive and unspoken. Either way, Jesus knew this to be true, but here’s the curious part.
Why did Jesus use birds as an example when teaching us about money?
“Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” Matthew 6:26 (The Message)
As Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount closes in Matthew chapter six, He gives us the imagery of a bird to place perspective on a statement He’s just made two verses earlier.
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus makes a profound statement, saying, “You cannot serve both God and Money.” It becomes a cornerstone of His teaching as we’ll later see with the parable of the Rich Young Ruler as well as the parable of the Rich Young Fool. The Apostle Paul will confirms this truth in his first letter to Timothy, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
You see, right after Jesus makes this statement, he uses the word therefore as a transition into his example about the birds in verse 26. He’s using the analogy of a bird in order to teach us about our misplaced longing for material wealth.
Notice that Jesus never says, nor does the Bible teach, that money is bad. It only becomes problematic when our love for it and our longing to posses it replaces our love for and service to God.
We use words like graceful and free to describe our feathered friends, but never rich. Jesus would hope the same for us. In fact, I think He’s suggesting our propensity to material richness is for the birds.
We would perceive it silly for a bird to be concerned about his well-being, yet we spend hours worrying about that exact thing in our own lives; consumed as we fret about, comparing ourselves as an attempt at justification.
Rather than free and unfettered, we are chained and strapped to a standard. A definition of rich that is not our own and certainly not God’s. Our job descriptions and our income define us.
This very dangerous place will eat away at our affections and eventually, replace and conquer our ability to see God.
That is why we must redefine rich.
A deeper, more complex understanding of this four-letter adjective. A definition that leads us to reflect the freedom and grace we see in the birds that soar overhead.
A faith in our Creator; careless in His care. Trusting that we are far more to Him than the birds, just like He says.
Actually, when we find this truth and learn to trust in it, God promises:
“But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles.” Isaiah 40:31 (The Message)
So maybe, just maybe, the birds sing a true song of richness; one we all need to understand. And when we do, that is when we begin to soar.
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Matt Ham is dedicated to guiding others toward rich living. His own experiences have led him to the understanding and freedom of a rich life, and through his RICH Principles he helps folks uncover true richness, identifying real treasure and discovering true joy and contentment.