Summary: Clothing is really an optional concern. It isn’t important. In what do we place our faith? How much faith do we really have? What tests our faith?
Last week we look at the birds of the air passage and saw how God takes care of us especially. God simply asks us to trust Him. Grow in our trust of Him. The Lord Will Provide. Of course this continues the theme of being generous with the blessings that God has given us. God has called His people since the time of Abraham to be a blessing to others. Giving to others and giving to God is how we live out what it means to be a follower of Jesus and a child of God. Jesus’ main concern in not serving greed and accumulation of stuff is not worrying over the things that we do not have especially being consumed with that worry and anxiety. But instead being concerned for others so that bless others with the blessings that God has provided.
I will begin by giving you a literal interpretation of this passage found in Matthew. Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 6:28. I mentioned last week how kids don’t always see things exactly as we see them.
While leaving our small-town carnival, our sons, ages six and two, were walking hand-in-hand behind my husband and me. We overheard Tyler tell his younger brother, Cory, "This is what heaven is like—except it’s free!"
—Sandra Cox, Carthage, IN. "Small Talk," Today’s Christian Woman.
28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
Obviously in this passage Jesus doesn’t want us to worry about clothing. Solomon was incredibly rich. He had gold everywhere. Read about the wealth that he had in 1Kings 10. But the flowers don’t spin or sew. God has clothed them. Therefore we can conclude that God has clothed us with all that we need. Clothing is optional. Isn’t that good news? We read in this passage that we no longer have to wear this restrictive stuff any more! We don’t have to spend our hard earned money on clothes!!! Of course in Erie this could get a little chilly.
Our guests are going to go away thinking that we are some kind of cult or something or at the very least, I am a madman. We know through history of the church as well as God’s Spirit that interpreting this passage in this manner would be ludicrous. However I would say that clothing is an optional concern for Jesus. It is not important. So you have a few holes in your robe. So you have a few patches. So what if your pants are flooding. If we go down this path then we find another extreme.
Yet what we have studied about the Sermon on the Mount helps us here. Jesus is concerned that we might spend too much time, effort, energy, and money worrying about our clothes and especially what they make us look like. Remember the lessons that we learned about the hypocrites and their acts of righteousness. Hypocrites are play actors pretending to be something that they are not. Pretending to be better than they really are. They seek recognition from others and the power and privilege that comes along with that recognition. In fact, clothing, just as it is today, was a sign of status in the culture of Jesus’ day.
But the heart of the matter whether it is our wealth and treasures that we keep to benefit ourselves or the worry over whether we have enough food for tomorrow according to Jesus is a matter of faith. “O you of little faith.” This especially is a huge concern for Matthew. A community that is persecuted and cast off because they follow Jesus. They are looked down upon. They are disowned. They probably are struggling to make ends meet because they probably are Roman citizens and have been labeled heretics by their Jewish kinsmen. Five times in Matthew’s gospel, he talks about followers of Jesus who have little faith. Jesus is very much concerned with how our clothing and our worry over clothing reveals the quantity of faith that we have.
How much faith do you really have?
Does your clothing reveal anything about your faith and your character?
Churches in the last years have put a lot of stock in how a person dresses. Fortunately I think we slowly changing this. Some minority cultures put a lot of stock in dress because of the respect that comes with it as they have often had to work much harder to get those things than people in the majority culture. However everyone needs to look at his or herself and examine their focus. Examine their faith. Is it little like those who saw Jesus calm the storm? Or is it great like the Roman centurion who told Jesus that Jesus did not have to be in person to heal his servant. If Jesus just gave the command, no matter where Jesus was, the centurion knew in his heart that it would be done.