How many birds are you worth? Really. Have you ever thought about pricing a person in terms of birds?! Jesus has such a delightful and humorous way to get our attention! (In Divine Conspiracy Dallas Willard presents this line of understanding Jesus’ teaching on “Do not worry.”)
Two of the Good News writers, Matthew and Luke, show Jesus ministering to anxious, worried people and helping them to lighten up and laugh with him in Abba’s word, the Father’s heavenly kingdom of love (Matthew 6:25-34 and Luke 12:22-34). Always the master Psychologist, Jesus knows the best way to speak to people’s hearts. (Being a psychologist myself, I think a lot about my role of assisting Jesus, the “Wonderful Counselor” of Isaiah 9:6.)
Listen to the Birds and Look at the Flowers
You know from personal experience that when you’re pressured or stressed you’re probably not smiling. If you’re burdened and discouraged you’re probably not looking up to appreciate God in the moment. So Jesus’ humor breaks the tension as he says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26).
In other words, are you straining or weighed down? Look up! See the birds in the heavens all around you. Listen to their song! Abba provides all that they need and you’re worth far more than many birds!
One of the things we tend to worry about is how we look. We may spend a lot of time in front of mirrors — in our bathroom or in the eyes of other people — trying to improve our image and lift up our sagging self-esteem. But we never get lifted up that way. Any good feelings we might derive from impressing or pleasing people quickly evaporate. Again Jesus’ humor relaxes us. He says, “See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If 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?” (Matthew 6:28-30)
Don’t Be a “Little Faith!”
Here is more of Jesus’ humor. Chuckling, he calls us “Little Faiths!” (“Oligopistoi” in Greek, a word Jesus uses ten times in the gospels, apparently is a gently chiding nickname he gives to his disciples for their lack of confidence in God and himself.) Jesus says that when we’re worrying or carrying burdens by ourself we need to learn from the flowers and birds who have more faith in God then we do!
The way to overcome anxious or depressive moods is to stop obsessing about yourself and your performance and look to God in spiritual reality, bringing your true self — including your needs and emotions — to him with trust that he is your loving Father and he has made you to be more lovely than the flowers.
How many birds are you worth? Quite a few!
Don’t miss out on Jesus’ playful, happy spirit! Jesus’ humor has been hidden from most people but it’s right there in the Gospels to help you learn to “Smile, Laugh, and Play with Jesus.”