By Michael E. Brooks
“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. . . . Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29, 31 NKJV).
South Asia is home to many beautiful birds, including several species in the family known as kingfishers. At Khulna Bible College in Bangladesh we frequently see two of these, one very small and the other large. Both are bright and multi-colored and have the characteristic large beak and crested head.
On my wife’s first trip to Bangladesh she was able to see the small kingfisher several times at the pond on campus. Each time she saw the bird she would stalk it with her camera in an effort to get a good close shot. The students and staff watched her and soon would come and tell her when “Sister Brenda’s bird” was in view. They took little notice of the bird themselves, but valued her enjoyment and contributed to her pleasure.
Brenda loves birds and has a special warm spot for those small Bangladeshi kingfishers. But they do not begin to occupy the place in her heart reserved for her children, grandchildren and other family members. Birds are just birds, for all their beauty and charm. Family is different. It has true value, and receives our sincerest love.
Is that not the message which Jesus taught? God watches over and cares for the sparrows and even the wildflowers. But they are not his children. He created all life and everything in this universe. But only mankind was made in his own image (Genesis 1:27). Any (and every) human is worth far more than many sparrows.
David recognized this truth. “You have made him to have dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen – even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas” (Psalm 8:6-8). Humanity is the pinnacle of God’s creation, greater to him than all else he has made.
Two important applications stand out. First, God loves people in a special way, and cares for them personally and individually. The value or sanctity of human life is rooted in this concept. Every human is a child of God, loved by him and valued by him more than any other created thing. This love gives us security and makes it possible to trust in God to care for us, just as an infant trusts the security of its mother’s arms.
Second, God has given mankind a special place of responsibility in his creation. He is to care for the material world, just as Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden to “tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Authority is given, to have dominion over the other parts of creation. But with that authority comes responsibility.
We are God’s stewards, trusted with his possessions that we might guard and tend them. They are not ours, to use selfishly or wastefully. The fact that animals, plants, minerals and the earth itself is lesser in God’s eyes than humanity does not mean that it is unimportant or without value. Humans will be held to account for that over which God has placed them (Matthew 25:14-30). Let us be good stewards.
By Michael E. Brooks