How Much More
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:7-11
Sometimes, when reading this passage, we have been taught to focus on the asking, seeking and knocking. We may have got the message that we need to ask with more insistence, seek with more persistence and knock and knock and knock because eventually, we will have demonstrated enough tenacity to deserve the reward of the door opening. We may have been told that the Greek can be translated ‘keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking’. That’s true. It can be. Or it can just simply be translated ‘ask, seek, knock’.
Persistence is important and so is deliberately pursuing God. Here, however, Jesus’ point is not persistence. He’s actually speaking against the religious spirit of the day. He’s talking against the ‘God is cold, distant and unpredictable’ mindset of the religious spirit. Most of our learning is caught, not taught. The gospels show us that so many of the teachers that were influential in Israel were cold, distant and unpredictable. So many seemed to resist the healing of Jesus because it was done on the ‘wrong’ day. That’s cold hearted. That’s the understanding about God that the people would have caught.
These words that Jesus spoke were dangerously alive. They had the power to awaken their hearers to the reality of a ‘different’ God. A ‘different’ God to the one which everyone had grown up believing in and had been taught about. These words came from the depths of the father’s heart. Jesus’ lifestyle verified this by revealing a Father who was close and cared – one who would heal whatever the day because he had compassion.
Jesus’ hearers would expect to ask, but most likely not to receive. If they did receive, it would, most likely, not be what they had hoped for. It would be something not so pleasant – not a fish, but a serpent. It is what everyone thought, was taught and was what they had caught. Perhaps they would say, ‘God is just not like that.’; ‘He’s not that kind.’; ‘He’s not that involved with our lives.’; ‘You just never know with God.’; ‘He’s not that good.’ Jesus was saying something different. He was saying, ‘If you ask something of Father, He’s predictable. He’s predictably, abundantly good.’ The emphasis is not on us asking but on God giving; not on the knocking, but on the opening. The punch line is in the last sentence. Most dads know how to give good things to their children, even though they are fallen and broken. If humanity can do that, in its broken state, how much more can a God who is not broken but beautifully, abundantly good.
He is such a good father it is not fair! He is a God of grace and favour. That means we cannot earn anything from him. We can stop trying and come like children, totally relying on His abundant goodness. In fact, our trying so often reveals that we don’t trust His goodness. That is a heart journey for most of us as we have such deep down resistance to freely given love. Deep down we feel we ought to earn things. If we have earned things we feel we have rights to have them. Deep down we feel we have to put right the things that we have done wrong. We have to be our own saviour. All of that internal resistance is actually in the way. We are projecting onto God that He is mean. Inside we stand distant from Him declaring what we think are our rights. That mindset is opposed to God.
Reality is that we are totally reliant on God’s goodness sustaining our lives every second of the day. We, so often, live as if that is not true. He is good, all the time, whether we know it or not. He truly makes it rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike – and rain is a good thing in Palestine! We can come to him, childlike, dependant, with simplicity of heart, trusting in His goodness. When we do it is like we come home to rest, in his arms. Then the fruit of father smiling over our lives starts to break out through us without us even trying.
That is offensive to the mind that is nor renewed. It means that a five year old can run to daddy and experience his goodness in a way that someone who has spent a life time doing the right things just wouldn’t know was permissible. It means that a ninety year old can suddenly discover a childlike trust and joy that seems irresponsible to someone caught in what they think are the ‘heavy responsibilities’ of living for God.
It does not mean that we never experience hard things. On the contrary, if you live with that sort of childlike joy and peace, people can start to project their anger against life, the universe and God on you. That can add to the difficulties and needs that we all face in life. But the peace and joy inside grow as we trust more and more that He is good. It just won’t go away!
‘I am abundantly good and generous. I long to give so much goodness to you that you will feel overwhelmed. Ask me! Don’t ask expecting not to get anything, or to get something rotten. Trust in my extraordinary goodness!’
Go on, relearn the trust of a child! Come home so that He can be your Father – a good Father – much, much more. Invite Him into the issues of your heart, now – not as your religious, painful, duty – but because a good, abundant Dad never meant you to do life on your own and in your own strength.
‘…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!’