Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)
And He also said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6,7)
What we have here looks like a kind of biblical-times “sparrow coupon day”.
A farthing was the lowest valued coin that was consistently minted by the Romans. It was equal to about 1/4 of a penny at the time the King James Bible was printed. So, today you could figure we might get 5 sparrows for about 2 cents. Unless you want to factor in inflation and shipping. Unless you buy $35.00 worth of them on Amazon.com and get free shipping? But then you would probably get about 8,750 of them for 35 bucks.
But what are you going to do with all of them? What do you do with even 5 of them? Eat dinner or start a zoo, I suppose.
Anyway, I think about this passage often. Because it tells me that the Lord values all of his creatures. That even the smallest of animals are under His watchful eye. As the hymn says,
“His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”
In a similar way, I think that much of what we do in life is not noticed by those around us. Some people care about what we do. But most don’t.
Much of what we do is discounted by employers or family or friends. We can work very hard at jobs where employers fail to acknowledge our efforts. They often figure we get a pay check and should be happy with that.
Many of us go far beyond what we are actually required to do in our work. And that work is rarely rewarded with any positive comment, let alone bonuses, raises or simple recognition. I have worked most of my life in jobs where employers rewarded other people that did very little of value; while I, like many of my colleagues, labored with little pay under very difficult circumstances and stresses. Often having to deal with an employer that was never satisfied.
We can find ourselves in impossible situations in this life. In circumstances where we are “hedged in”. Where we are unable to move either right or left or up or down. It can seem as if God has placed us in a box with no real options. As if we are in a deep rocky pit, with a broken shovel, as it starts to rain. (See Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein.)
And we can look around at other believers and see their prosperity. We wonder why prosperity does not knock on our door with balloons and a face like Ed McMahon’s. We dream like Tevye in A Fiddler on the Roof and ask if our improvement in life would really “spoil some vast eternal plan”?
Much of life is this way. One of the greatest battles of life is the affliction of working hard and doing what is right without proper compensation. In the scriptures, this is called “longsuffering”. It is a fruit produced in our lives by the Spirit of God. But it is not a fruit we generally search for. We would prefer the direct-benefits of fruits like joy, peace and hope.
However, longsuffering is right up there with joy, peace and hope. It is an eternal fruit that actively works in us to produce things like patience and love.
Affliction is not something we seek; but it is absolutely necessary to produce the quiet, waiting upon God where we will find true peace and rest.
It is so tempting for us to look around and think that we have been forgotten. But we haven’t. In fact, every detail of our lives has been working together for our good by the infinite care and planning of God. We just cannot see that from down here. We are still locked into this space-time existence. But God exists outside of space and time as He moves unhindered in eternity past, present and future “to bring us to an expected end”. To a wonderful, eternal inheritance.
And so, the sparrow has a purpose as well. God is using each one for some purpose we cannot fathom. Maybe the purpose of this small creature is to break through our worries as we park for lunch and watch him play. Or maybe he is a reminder that the Lord watches over us through all the moments of our lives reminding us that we are “of more value than many sparrows“.
OR . . . maybe he is meant to give us an amazing display of God’s poetic hand as can be seen in the following video.