"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? ..." (Luke 12:25-26)

"Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" (Luke 12:25-26)

Why does Jesus mention ravens?

Jesus is making a metaphorical observation about ravens because ravens do not go out and produce their own. Simply put, ravens are scavengers. Unlike other birds that go out and look for worms or other specific foods, ravens will feast off of just about anything that is available. Often they will eat dead carcasses, unlike other birds.

Jesus is comparing this to those who go out and produce their food, such as farmers. Farmers will plant seeds and grow foods. They will work hard throughout the day in order to guarantee that they have food to eat or food to sell. Ravens do not work like this - they will look for just about any dead thing that might be lying around.

Why does Jesus not want them to worry?

Jesus is advising his students not to worry about life. Why should they not worry? There are plenty of things to worry about in the world. We can worry about becoming sick, or becoming poor. We can worry about losing a job. We can worry about war or political intrigue.

One can worry about the body dying. One can worry about the body starving. One can worry about our reputation.

Yes, there are many things that we can worry about. But as Jesus is trying to teach his students, worrying does not help us. Worry does not do us any good. Worrying only puts our minds upon ourselves and the temporary physical body.

Yes, to worry about oneself is to be self-centered. This is why Jesus asked his followers not to worry. Jesus wanted his followers to think on a higher plane.

Jesus wanted his followers to think about the Supreme Being.

What about sowing and reaping?

The element of sowing or reaping has both a practical point and a deeper point. In the literal sense, to sow - translated from the Greek word σπείρω (speirō) - is the planting of seeds. And to reap - θερίζω (therizō) - is to harvest or cut (as with a sickle) the wheat.

Yet there is another element of sowing and reaping that Jesus is also referring to: It is the law of consequence. In the human form of life, we experience a consequence for every self-centered conscious activity we take. This is communicated clearly in the statement:
"A man reaps what he sows." (Gal. 6:7)
which has also been translated to in the King James version:
"As you sow, so shall you reap."
The bottom line is that Jesus clearly taught the law of consequences, in this statement and in others. He taught that we each reap what we sow. Whatever we do has a consequence in the human form of life.

How are reaping and sowing like consequences?

Jesus utilizes the analogy of reaping and sowing in several other teachings. This is because reaping and sowing are analogous to the consequences in life.

Our ability to make choices about our life yields consequences. How we affect others produces consequences - good and bad. This is because we each have the choice to help or hurt others.

We can see this very practically. Should a person commit a crime, he will likely be caught and go to jail or pay for the crime otherwise. If he is not caught by society, he will still have to suffer the consequences - one way or another and in this lifetime or the next.

This means that those who are imprisoned or otherwise punished for a crime - say with community service or whatever - become resolved of their actions. This means society is doing them a service by punishing them for their crime.

Know also that this is ultimately controlled by the Supreme Being. God is the Supreme Controller and thus ultimately has arranged it so consequences are dealt out appropriately. And it is not as if the Supreme Being is going around making sure that everyone suffers the consequences of their activities. Rather, He has simply designed - or programmed - the system that automatically deals out consequences.

And this is just. Consider that after many years of research, child psychologists have concluded that consequence-training is the best way to discipline a child. It teaches the child in a practical way, rather than arbitrarily punishes the child.

The Supreme Being is the ultimate parent and He has created this consequence system in order to help us learn, and evolve in a way that brings us closer to our actual role and position - our actual identity. And what is that?

What is our role?

Each of us is a loving servant and playmate of the Supreme Being. We were created by Him to love and serve Him. But because each of us has the choice to love Him or not, some of us have decided we don't want to embrace our relationship with Him.

For those of us who have taken this course and rejected our relationship with the Supreme Being, God has created the physical world and these physical bodies to allow us to virtually get away from Him. These temporary physical bodies allow us to pretend to be someone we are not for a while, while we try to ignore and even reject His existence.

So you might say this physical world is somewhat of a rehabilitation center. We are each acting outside of our actual role and identity - often referred to by some parents as 'acting out.'

So the Supreme Being has set up this place to allow us to exercise our freedom from Him. But at the same time, He's created a place and system that teaches us through consequence learning.

But even still, we are always given the choice. We don't have to be rehabilitated. We can continue to reject our relationship with the Supreme Being if we choose. We can continue to be empty and alone in this life and the next.

And this very issue - emptiness - is what causes even those with the most money and material comforts to succumb to drugs, alcohol, and even commit suicide.

Yes, in the U.S. today some 40,000 people commit suicide each year - about one suicide every 13 minutes. Why are so many Americans - who supposedly live in the most materially comfortable country - committing suicide?

Can materialism make us happy?

No matter how much comfort or material goodies our physical body receives, the person inside - the spirit-person made of another substance - is not fulfilled.

This is why many of these suicides are by those who are wealthy and famous. Their material wealth and fame did not fulfill them. They continue to be empty inside.

This is because we are not these physical bodies. The physical body is like a vehicle we drive around for a while. And just as the driver of a car can get out and walk away from the car, the spirit-person within leaves the physical body at the time of death.

And trying to become fulfilled by the things of the physical world would be compared to a hungry car driver going to the gas station and thinking that if he fills his car up with gas, his hunger will go away.

But because the car driver is not the car, it doesn't work this way. Filling the gas tank doesn't make the driver any less hungry because the driver is not the car.

In the same way, we are not these physical bodies, and no matter how wealthy and famous and powerful we might be in the physical world - none of it fulfills us.

This is Jesus' point in his metaphorical discussion above. He is stating that the raven - who doesn't have the many options and choices that humans have - the ability to sow and reap - still is taken care of.

In other words, we have nothing to be anxious about. We have nothing to worry about. The Supreme Being is in complete control over the situation. And even though we have so many choices and options - and the ability to choose whether we want to return to our relationship with Him - He still takes care of us.

Is God's love for us conditional?

The Supreme Being loves each of us unconditionally. We each have a unique relationship with Him and He covets that relationship. Even if we are not returning His love, He still loves us.

Just consider a parent whose teenage kid runs off and becomes a drug addict. Will the parent love the child any less? Certainly not. The kid may have rejected the parent and the parent's warning to not get involved in drugs. But the parent won't stop loving the child. Why? Because the parent doesn't forget the relationship that exists between them and the child.

While the Supreme Being's love for us is infinitely greater than the love a parent has for a child, there are certainly similarities with respect to the fact that we have - like the teenager who rejected their parents and ran off and got addicted to drugs - rejected our relationship with the Supreme Being, and run off and gotten addicted to materialism.

Yes, despite the warnings and teachings of the Supreme Being coming through His representatives, we have decided that we know better what's good for us. We know what will make us happy - while God doesn't.

So what do we do? We chase our self-centered dreams around the physical world. We try to become a 'winner' - a champion - of something. We pick some special thing and then we try to become the greatest at that. Whether it is the greatest football player, the greatest businessman or the greatest actor or actress, we want to win at something. We want to be great.

Why? Because we are empty inside. We think that winning will fill that emptiness. But just as putting gas in the tank of the car doesn't make the car driver any less hungry, the goodies of the physical world - including food, sex, wealth, and fame - don't bring us any fulfillment.

The only thing that will fulfill us is our forgotten relationship with the Supreme Being. This is the only thing that will fulfill us because this is who we are. We each have a unique loving service relationship with Him, and when we are acting within that relationship we become fulfilled.

This is why Jesus said:
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." (John 4:34)
Serving God is fulfilling to Jesus. Jesus was executing the will of his beloved Supreme Being. He was loving God and serving God with that love. Thus he was fulfilled by his endeavors to please the Supreme Being:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
This is the ultimate understanding of Jesus' role and identity. One might say it is the secret teaching of Jesus, but there is no secret here: It is written clearly in the most published and distributed book ever - the Holy Bible.

Why do so many of us ignore this? Why would we ignore Jesus' statements here and throughout the scriptures that indicate our true role and identity as loving servants of the Supreme Being.

Some teach that Jesus' role was to cleanse our sins and give us whatever goodies we ask him for. They teach that we should be spending our time praying to Jesus to help us get a good job, help us become wealthy, fix our leg and cleanse us of our sins. They teach as if Jesus is our servant. As if we are supreme and his (or God's) role is to fetch us what we want.

This is because they want to ignore our real role. They want to ignore that we are the servants. We are in the role of servant and the Supreme Being is in the role of the master.

As such, our prayers should not be asking God or Jesus to give us stuff. Our prayers should be asking that the Supreme Being please help wake us up from our self-centered slumber so that we can learn to love Him and serve Him again.

This is, after all, the essence of Jesus' teachings:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’” (Luke 10:27)