And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. (Matthew 6:28-29 NASB)
I enjoy sermons like this one. Reverend Singleton has a knack for starting with something that we take for granted, and showing us how God uses the common things of this world to impart great truths. In Romans 1:21, Paul tells us "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." In past sermons we have seen how God has given us lessons in the hills, and in the eagles. This week, we learned a lesson from the lilies.
So what is the lesson of the lily? The lily says that we must live by faith. Notice the verse at the beginning of this post: the lilies do not toil or spin, yet they are clothed! If you read a little more of the passage, from verses 25-34, you will find that Jesus is telling his disciples not to worry about anything. He assures them that God already knows what they need, and that He will provide for them, just as he does the birds of the air and the flowers of the field.
We might like this to mean that we will be without trouble or hardship. Jesus does not promise that. In fact verse 34 ends with "each day has enough trouble of its own." but this lesson is about lilies. Specifically, we're talking about field lilies. Wildflowers. Not cultivated flowers that have to be babied and watered, but wild flowers that grow up alongside the road, in the ditches, and on the edge of the woods. These flowers come up year after year without anyone tending them. Their blooms last only a day or so and drop off, but there are always more blooms ready to open so unless you're keeping track, you don't even notice that it's happening.
Faith in God enables us to have this kind of resilience. We can live in the untended places, because we are cared for by God. We can make do with the water that falls from the sky, because Jesus promised that out of us would flow living water! We can bloom anew every day, because "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).
Faith also allows us to grow. Our original verses ask us to consider how the lilies grow. As long as lilies are attached to the bulb, they don't die. If you pick a lily, it will fade away, but that bulb will produce a new plant the next spring. You can dig up a lily bulb and forget about it, but when you plant it in new soil, it springs back up into a new flower. We are meant, like the lily, to keep growing forever. Jesus said “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life" (John 5:24). We are eternal beings. Do you notice that Jesus said "has eternal life," not "will have eternal life?" Our new, eternal life started the moment we believed. It isn't something we have to wait for. We are not meant to be sitting around waiting to be planted. We are already planted, and are meant to grow!
It is unfortunate that some people trust in Jesus, and then sit around waiting to go to heaven so that they can have eternal life. They are like lily bulbs stuck in a bag in the garage, waiting to be planted. Lily bulbs and people can do no good sitting around. Did you know that lilies reproduce by enlarging their bulbs until they are large enough to split into two, or even more, parts? Those new bulbs will form new plants! That is what we are meant to do! Keep growing, and help God's kingdom on earth to multiply! In Matthew 21:33-46, Jesus told a parable about a vineyard owner. At the end of the parable, he told the pharisees who were listening “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit" (vs. 43). We are meant to grow, and to produce fruit, just as the lily is meant to grow and produce flowers.
Don't be a hothouse Christian. Get out into the fields and the roadways and bloom! Grow so that you can help to multiply God's kingdom.
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love."
(1 Corinthians 16:13-14)