I love a good picture book. As the father of four and now a grandfather, I've seen my fair share of illustrated stories.
I don't know if you've thought about this, but the best picture book of all is the Bible. God, the great Author of life, employs everyday, earthly illustrations to communicate his invisible, spiritual truths to the reader.
While these pictures are splashed across nearly every page of Scripture, Jesus draws three in particular in Matthew 6 that have helped shape my personal life and ministry.
When we hear the word treasure, we typically think of some hidden chest of gold or a rare gem. But a treasure can be a valuable possession of any kind. Jesus warns, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal."
This word picture is meant to remind us that we weren't created to find our ultimate satisfaction in the temporary treasures and pleasures of the here and now. Affection from another person, possessions, and success in life are not ungodly by any means, but they are not eternal.
The next time your eye catches a glimpse of a treasure, allow your heart to see the warning label so that you don't invest all your time, energy and money into something that will rust.
In this passage, birds represent anxiety, or more accurately, a life free from it. Think of how small a creature a bird is. Because of their size, they can control almost nothing.
We mistakenly believe that because we're humans, we can control our lives. While it's important to be responsible and make plans, Jesus encourages us to let go of our delusion of control and entrust our lives to the One who rules the universe.
The next time your eye catches a glimpse of a bird, allow your heart to remember how little time and space you control so you can rest in how much you are guarded by the Creator of time and space.
Flowers are similar to birds, but there's a final element illustrated here: the difference between want and need. It's not wrong to want certain pleasures and comforts of earth, but we must be careful to not name it as a need.
Needs, if they're not actually needs, become dangerous. We feel entitled to them, we feel we have the right to demand them, and then we judge the love of another (typically God) by his willingness to deliver.
The next time your eye catches a glimpse of a flower, remember that God knows and has provided for everything that is essential for your life.
- Think of the excitement that a young child has reading their favorite picture book. What can you do to stir up that level of excitement for reading the Bible?
- Pick one of the three illustrations that you feel most convicted about. How have you given evidence this week that your heart needs to be reminded of that area?