And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30)
We have spent a number of weeks now on the subject of worry. We live in a very anxious society and our appearance seems to be a large part of that. How we dress, what sort of clothes we wear and how we present ourselves seems to be hugely important. Whether it is a desire to impress, to fit in or even to stand out, the subject is hugely significant for many of us.
I am amazed how many hours are spent by an increasing amount of people in society, obsessing about fashion, make-up, clothes and having the perfect body. I am more aware of it now, having a teenage daughter in the house, than ever before.
As I was thinking about this subject, it occurred to me that God’s original intention was that we shouldn’t need clothes. Adam and Eve in the beginning were perfectly happy naked. The need for clothes has only come about through sin and shame. Now I am not suggesting we go back to not wearing clothes, we can’t undo the mess that our original parents created. We all know instinctively that nudity is wrong. We have to wear clothes, the question is; how much time and attention should we spend on them?
As with so many other things, we need to get a balance. It is good to dress well and look respectable. We shouldn’t be unkempt or slovenly. The bible says that we can actually glorify God in our body;
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)
The point today is that we should not obsess about our appearance.
In our passage today, Jesus is once again comparing the way God looks after the rest of his creation as a reason not to worry about our own appearance. Solomon was the richest king in Israel’s history with unprecedented wealth. And yet Jesus says that even a flower of the field looks more magnificent than he did. There is something beautiful about God’s created order that man just cannot reproduce. Even the most elaborate artificial flowers are nothing compared to the real thing.
The obsession with appearance is rooted in the need to feel attractive, needed, wanted. When we realise how God feels about us, the pressure is off. He made us as we are and He loves us as we are. It’s time we saw ourselves as God sees us and not as society does.
God’s view of beauty is so different to ours. The bible gives a few hints about this in the following passages. They are addressing the attitude of wives, but the principal remains. For men as well as for women, God is much more interested in the heart than the external appearance;
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewellery, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:3-4)
likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. (1 Timothy 2:9-10)