BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So, don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:28-31 NIV
I was inspired by this passage of scripture during a zoom class this morning (Thank you Ron Hanson) along with the Memorial Day Holiday. Memorial Day is a time to reflect on those soldiers whom one day put on their uniforms, but never took them off. They demonstrated “valor” even if they were not recognized for that quality. Valor is “great courage in the face of danger, especially battle.”
Theologian G.K. Chesterton observes, “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.” Every soldier who dawns a uniform in a time of war demonstrates courage. They desire to live, but they realize that cause for which they fight may cost them their lives.
In Matthew 10, Jesus is calling His disciples to be men of courage, men of valor. He tells them, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves…will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account, you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you don’t worry about what to say…” (v. 16-19) “You will be hated by everyone because of me…” (v. 22)
Because of the sacrifice of those who have gone before, we are free from the degree of persecution in our country that Jesus spoke about to His disciples. Yet there are other sources of fear, some subtle, some of great significance.
How can we have courage in the face of danger? We need to fear God and not people Despite all the disciples would face Jesus tells them, “Don’t be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Remember that it was the desire to accommodate their lives to those around that allowed those of the Church of Laodicea to become lukewarm. What we think about, our focus determines our peace. Our call is to focus on the Lord and His Word. We are to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We must love the Lord above all others and above all else.
How does Jesus communicate God’s care in the face of danger? He draws our focus to sparrows. Sparrows not eagles. Two sparrows are sold for a penny, but the Lord sees them when they fall.
We pay attention and watch over that which we value. Have you been keeping an eye on your investments lately? We don’t pay attention to that which doesn’t matter. Jesus reminds us that in God’s economy that which is of low value to people is highly prized by God. That is why fishermen, tax collectors, and those the world overlooked or despised were chosen by Jesus to be world changers.
Finally, Jesus reassures His disciples that small things matter to God. He even knows that number of hairs on our heads! If God cares about sparrows and hair, we can have confidence that He cares for us! “…you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:31 NIV)
In our life as Christ-followers we can have courage; we don’t need to be afraid. In facing the anxiety of a pandemic, we can have courage; we don’t need to be afraid. God cares for us. “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”
Courage. Desiring to live, readiness to die. When Christ is at the center we can live with courage and confidence in God’s care and the eternal destiny that gives peace and dispels worry and fear.