Let us consider this matter properly. The lily is said to be clothed, but this of course must not be understood to mean that the lily's existence is one thing and having clothes on is something else —no, to be a lily is its clothing. Taken this way, would not the human being be much more gloriously clothed? Or would the human being, in his anxiety over articles of clothing, be allowed to forget the first clothing totally? You of little faith, you ingrate with your imaginary need, you worried one, even if your need is so great that you totally forget how God has clothed you —learn from the ant to become wise, but learn from the lily how glorious it is to be a human being, how gloriously you are clothed, you of little faith.
Worldly worry always seeks to lead a human being into the small-minded unrest of comparisons, away from the lofty calmness of simple thoughts. To be clothed, then, means to be a human being —and therefore to be well clothed. Worldly worry is preoccupied with clothes and the dissimilarity of clothes. Is it not like the child who comes distressed and asks for what is has and to whom the adult with gentle reproach says: You will surely have it tomorrow, you of little faith? The Gospel wants first of all to remind even a destitute person not to forget completely how gloriously he is clothed by God.
Moreover, we are all far from being needy in the more serious and strict sense of the word. But we all are perhaps much too inclined to worry about clothes and ungrateful enough to forget the first thoughts —and the first clothing. But by looking at the lily the worried one is reminded to compare his clothing with the lily's —even if poverty has clothed him in rags.
Should not, then, the invitation to learn from the lilies be welcome to everyone just as the reminder is useful to him! Alas, those great, uplifting, simple thoughts, those first thoughts, are more and more forgotten, perhaps entirely forgotten in the weekday and worldly life of comparisons. The one human being compares himself with others, the one generation compares itself with the other, and thus the heaped-up pile of comparisons overwhelms a person. As the ingenuity and busyness increase, there come to be more and more in each generation who slavishly work a whole lifetime far down in the low underground regions of comparisons. Indeed, just as miners never see the light of day, so these unhappy people never come to see the light: those uplifting, simple thoughts, those first thoughts about how glorious it is to be a human being. And up there in the higher regions of comparison, smiling vanity plays its false game and deceives the happy ones so that they receive no impression from those lofty, simple thoughts, those first thoughts.
To be ruler. Yes, what conflict there is about that in the world, whether it is about ruling over kingdoms and countries, over thousands, or about having at least one human being to rule over —besides oneself, over whom no one cares to rule. But out there in the field with the lilies, where every human being who in stillness and solitude suckles the milk of those first thoughts is what every human being is divinely destined to be, is a ruler —indeed, out there no one wants to be a ruler! To be a prodigy. Ah, what efforts are made in the world to achieve this envied position, and what efforts envy makes to prevent it! But out there in the field with the lilies, where every human being is what God has made him to be, is the wonder of creation; indeed, out there no one wants to be a prodigy!
The better individual would no doubt smile, and the strident laughter of the crowd would ridicule the fool who could talk in this sense about being a ruler and about being a prodigy. And yet what can the preacher mean with the words, "that God isolated the human being in order to see whether he would regard himself as a beast"? The person who is unwilling to be calmed, comforted, built up, and uplifted in isolation by the unconditional character of those first thoughts, who wants to devote himself to disappearing and perishing in the futile service of comparisons, regards himself as a beast, no matter whether by way of comparison he was distinguished or lowly. This is why God isolated the human being, made every human being this separate and distinct individual, which is implied in the unconditional character of those first thoughts. The individual animal is not isolated, is no unconditionally separate entity; the individual animal is a number and belongs under what that most famous pagan thinker has called the animal category: the crowd. The human being who in despair turns away from those first thoughts in order to plunge into the crowd of comparisons makes himself a number, regards himself as a beast, no matter whether he by way of comparison became distinguished or lowly.
But with the lilies the worried one is isolated, far away from all human or, perhaps more correctly, inhuman comparisons between individuals. Indeed, not even the one who has turned his back on the largest city in the world has left behind him such a motley crowd, such a confused and enormous multiplicity, as the person who turned his back on inhuman comparisons — in order, as a human being, to compare his clothing with the lily's.
—Søren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses, p. 188