Sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31)

Photo by Will Bolding on Unsplash

Someone once pointed out that if you glide your hand across a large  beautiful dining room table and encounter a single micro-sliver, you no longer remember how smooth the table was for the very great majority of its surface. You will probably not even remember the color or the beauty of the table. But you will remember that you got a sliver from it! The one small hurt is more than able to overwhelm the many impressions otherwise. This is what the fall of mankind did to us. It reversed the way certain things are supposed to work. One should in fact remember the beauty and the worth and the smoothness of the table and discount the one very small imperfection. 

Likewise, we ought to remember that God loves us with an everlasting love. He provides for us for eternity. He comforts us by His presence and His Spirit forever and ever. That our short lives in this fallen world might include a temporary injustice for His sake is not something that ought to define our impression of Him. 

Mrs. Civilla Martin once visited a bed-ridden saint and asked her if she ever got discouraged because of her condition. Her friend responded quickly: “Mrs. Martin, how can I be discouraged when my heavenly Father watches over each little sparrow and I know He loves and cares for me.” [Struck by that thought, Mrs. Martin later wrote the hymn “His Eye is on the Sparrow”], which has since been a source of much encouragement to many of God’s people.”  She wrote, “Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise, when songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him; from care He sets me free; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

Every Christian who has ever wrestled with self-worth or feelings of hopelessness turns at some point to the words Jesus said in Matthew 10:29-31. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

That Jesus said those words in the context of preparing His disciples for persecution makes them all the more meaningful. For who second-guesses their worth to God more than the one who is being persecuted because of their testimony about God? If the thought, “Does God even care about me?” is not far off when we are lonely or sick, how much more readily does it spring to mind when one is in prison for year upon year, mistreated and uncomfortable? 

But to illustrate that God’s love for us is far greater than our circumstances, Jesus used the image of a little brown bird. Something that is very common in almost every culture across the globe. Something that provides almost no value to hungry people or to bird-watchers, yet is an object of God’s care and affection  all the same. 

That thought should encourage us on the days we feel alone and defeated. If we yet breathe, God is still for us; whatever manner of trial or suffering we are enduring is not His punishment against us, but ultimately part of His judgment against His enemies. 

If God’s compassion is great enough to induce him to lay man’s punishment upon his own Son, it is surely great enough to induce him not to lay it upon the believer.

William G. T. Shedd

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

God cares for the least of His creation. How much more does He care for us! Give thanks then for this day. His grace is yet upon you.