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Lilly Lessons

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, [29] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Matthew 6:28-29 ESV

Once again, Jesus is continuing his discourse on anxiety and worry. He started this section by confirming that life is of more importance than what we are going to eat and what we are going to wear, yet these two things still pick and pull at all of us. We become anxious about clothing and possessions to such an extreme that they dominate our thoughts and become idols craving and demanding our attention. Jesus wants us to take our cues from the birds of the air and now the lilies of the field. These lilies are unmatched in their beauty and we should take note of how our heavenly Father has given these lilies an arrayment of beauty that surpasses even the pomp and glory of a king in procession.

Clothing has never been a consistent source of anxiety for me. I have never been overly stressed and concerned about my clothing or what I will wear or how I will look. To be fair, I have tended to push back on the social norms of what is expected to be worn for most of my life. Yet, I find myself falling into this trap with others at times. I worry less about what I wear but I often make snap judgments about others based on their choice of clothing for a particular activity or event. I find myself setting a standard that is solely based on my choices as the line of demarcation. Instead of understanding the person and seeing opportunities for Jesus, I only see my self-righteous value judgments about others. Which, now that I work this through in my mind is a revelation about the hidden stressor I have about clothing in my own life. Where I think of myself as being unconcerned, I am finding that there is a deeper anxiousness residing in my heart that truly does care about what I wear and my struggle to fit into the world and culture around me.

I think where this manifests itself most in my heart is when I turn my attention and focus away from Jesus and the spiritual clothing he has already given me. When I begin to use clothing as a marker and symbol of my status and place in society, I am feeding the worry and anxiousness that Jesus is talking about in this passage. “The suit makes the man” is a saying that speaks to the root of this source of anxiety. The desire to fit into the expectation. The thought that I must dress the part is woven into the basic fabric of culture at every level. Expectations from others are the great and powerful driver that leads me to worry and stress about these things.

What’s the solution? The solution that Jesus brings to me is always the same. The solution is always about my heart’s motivation in every decision and choice that I make. Whether I am choosing to use my words in conversation with and about others, or if I am choosing to wear a certain item of clothing with the expectation of culture and society in mind. The truth is that my every choice and decision should be based on the simplicity of the gospel. For the gospel is so very simple. So simple in fact that I often take it for granted and want to make it more complicated. I want to add my own indulgences and righteousness to the gospel in my life.

Jesus calls me to something simpler. More simpler but much more powerful. Why do I worry and stress about the things of the world that God knows that I need? He knows I need food. He knows I need clothing. He knows I need shelter. He knows I need all these basics of life. Jesus wants me to remember that my heavenly Father is just that, my heavenly Father who loves me more than I can ever imagine. When I think I know the depth of his love in my life, he reveals himself deep still. Jesus is calling me to do away with the trivial and focus on the eternal. He is not calling me to just not care about food and clothing, but to understand that my heavenly Father is the one who provides these things and it is to him that I should be bringing my requests and concerns. I am to do away with my own need to strive in my own effort alone. No, Jesus wants me to first and foremost truly understand the love of the Father and then come to him for all my provision, security, and purpose. When I am looking to Christ alone for these things, then there is freedom to live this life with contentment. Only then can I have my heart truly focused on the love of Christ and simply work in His strength to live this life for him. In His Grace, by His Grace, and through His Grace in all things.

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