Giving and Receiving, Part III

“Ask and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:7-12).

I think in our Western Church, we have been too quick to focus on what God wants to bless us with, and we have forgotten that His blessings are very often, if not always, conditional! The last line of this above-quoted passage proves it. “Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them.” What is Jesus saying here? He is saying simply, that, although God very much wants to give us what we “ask” for, and “seek” for, and “knock” for, yet He will not do so, unless we begin to treat others properly. The passage, really, cannot be understood properly apart from it’s previous context (Matthew 7:1-6), which we studied yesterday.

Now let’s put this whole thing into proper context. If you have been following along with us in our Bible Study of these verses (see previous publications on the web, website address below), you’ll know that the previous verses have everything to do with how we tend to judge other unrighteously. In that passage (which begins with, “Do not judge, lest you be judged”), Jesus let’s us know that judgment against our neighbor is a very serious thing, indeed! In fact, so serious is it, that He ends the discourse with, “Do not give what is holy to dogs (etc.).” The “gist” of this passage, we discovered, was that if we, as Christians, will act unbecomingly towards our brothers and sisters, then God Himself will not be willing to give us what is holy.

So, then, verse 12 of this passage makes a lot of sense. All in all, we could say that Matthew 7:1-6 and Matthew 7:7-12 are basically reiterations of one another. In the first instance, we learned that God wants to give us what is “holy,” and His “pearls,” but He will not do so if we act like “dogs” or “swine” by being judgmental and critical towards one another. This, really, is what Matthew 7:1-6 is teaching (read it over again, and you will see that this is the case). Next, verses 7:1-12 start out by saying, “Ask and it shall be given to you.” This again, is an affirmation that God does indeed want to give us His pearls and what is holy! But — aha! Even though He knows how to give “good gifts” (verse 11) to those who ask Him, verse 12 teaches us that He will not do so, unless we treat others in the way that we are supposed to. This really, is the interpretation of Matthew 7:7-12. “Therefore,” Jesus says, with a sense of great eagerness that His children would catch on to this one all-essential point in being able to receive God’s perfect gifts which He so greatly wants to “hand out” to His beloved children, “however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Application: How do we treat people? Are we kind to them? Are we forgiving towards them? If we want to receive God’s perfect gifts, then we will have to begin to change our attitude in these areas.