Definition of Parable:
Parable signifies in general a comparison, or a parallel, by which one thing is used to illustrate another. It is a likeness taken from the sphere of real, or sensible, or earthly incidents, in order to convey an ideal, or spiritual, or heavenly meaning. As uttering one thing and signifying something else, it is in the nature of a riddle and has therefore a light and a dark side, it is intended to stir curiosity and calls for intelligence in the listener. The derivation of the Hebrew is unknown.
Parable of the Birds of Heaven and the Lilies of the Field
Matthew 6:24-34 (Luke 12:24-27)
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? 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 men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day.
What does "serving two masters" and "anxiety" have in common? They both have the same root problem -- being divided within oneself. The root word for "anxiety" literally means "being of two minds". An anxious person is often "tossed to and fro" and paralyzed by indecision. Fear of some bad outcome usually cripples those afflicted with anxiety. It's also the case with someone who wants to submit to God but also live according to the world's standards of success and fulfillment. Who is the master in charge of your life? Our "master" is that which governs our thought-life, shapes our ideals, controls the desires of the heart and the values we choose to live by. We can be ruled by many different things -- the love of money or possessions, the power of position, the glamor of wealth and prestige, the driving force of unruly passions and addictions. Ultimately the choice boils down to two: God and "mammon". What is mammon? "Mammon" stands for "material wealth or possessions" or whatever tends to "control our appetites and desires". There is one Master alone who has the power to set us free from the slavery of sin and fear. That Master is the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus uses the illustration of nature — the birds and the flowers — to show how God provides for them in the natural order of his creation. How much more can we, as his children, rely upon God's providential care? God is utterly reliable. In the Lord's Prayer we are reminded that God is our provider when we pray: Give us this day our daily bread. What is bread, but the very staple of life and symbol of all that we need to live and grow. Anxiety is neither helpful nor necessary. It robs us of faith and confidence in God's help and it saps our energy for doing good. Jesus admonishes his followers to put away anxiety and preoccupation with material things and instead to seek first the things of God — his kingdom and righteousness. Anxiety robs the heart of trust in the mercy and goodness of God and in his loving care for us. God knows our needs even before we ask and he gives generously to those who trust in him. Who is your master -- God or mammon?
"Lord, free me from needless worries and help me to put my trust in you. Make my first concern your kingdom and your righteousness. Help me to live each day with trust and gratitude for your providential care for me".