Matthew 6:26 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 6:26, NIV: "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

Matthew 6:26, ESV: "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?"

Matthew 6:26, KJV: "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?"

Matthew 6:26, NASB: "Look at the birds of the sky, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather crops into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more important than they?"

Matthew 6:26, NLT: "Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?"

Matthew 6:26, CSB: "Consider the birds of the sky: They don't sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you worth more than they?"

What does Matthew 6:26 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus has commanded His followers not to store up wealth for themselves on earth, but to instead store up "treasure" in heaven by living righteously out of sincere devotion to God (Matthew 6:19–24). To those who might be tempted towards greed or materialism, this is a sobering warning. Recently, Jesus has applied that same idea to those who are in no immediate danger of stockpiling wealth: the poor. Those who do not know where the money for food, drink, and clothing will come from can still be overly concerned about material things.

Christ says that believers ought not live in anxiety about these basic needs of life. Life is about more than just food and clothing—there is meaning and purpose even if you do not have these things. To live in worry about the money we don't have is living under the control of money, rather than the control of God. Living to serve God includes trusting Him to provide what is needed without living in fear and anxiety.

Now Jesus turns to nature as an example of this. Birds, He says, do not plant or harvest or store crops in barns. They have no organized system for providing for themselves beyond the moment they're in. Still, they eat, Jesus says, because God the Father feeds them. That is the work of God.

Jesus asks His listeners a pointed question: Are you not more valuable than birds? The implied answer is of course God's children are more valuable to God the Father than birds. If God feeds the birds, He will also feed those who are of greater worth than birds. Instead of living in anxiety about these basic needs, then, Jesus urges His followers to trust God the Father to provide what is needed in the right amounts and at the right time.

Careful reading of this passage gives important context. Jesus has been careful to point out that God's plans, and God's will, are not always identical to our preferences (Matthew 5:3–12). God will provide all that we "need" in order to obey His will. At times that might not include what we sometimes think of as "needs." The fact that life—true life (John 10:10; 14:6)—is more than these earthly things is a crucial part of understanding this analogy.