Ask, seek, knock: Devotional Commentary for January 3-9
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
And Jesus continued:
7:6 "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
As we have repeatedly noted, the main objective of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is to give us an extensive lesson on the fundamental principles of His Kingdom. These Kingdom principles serve as the guiding lamp unto our path and a light unto our feet. Following His stern admonishment concerning judgmental attitudes and faultfinding behaviors, Jesus earnestly exhorts us to be discerning and responsible with what is entrusted to our care as the children of God.
The Gospel we heard and believed declares the Kingdom principles by which we must live. That is, the Kingdom principles in the Gospel define the Christian behaviors we must reflect and the framework of our relationships with those around us. To be sure, we should not condemn others and become faultfinders instead of serving as the messengers of the Good News of the Gospel.
The Gospel is the pearl of heavenly treasure entrusted to us. We should be discerning when we proclaim it to the lost. The Gospel is holy. It should be handled with holiness in truth. It should be spread responsibly with love and care. We should not cast it before unbelievers by behaving as unregenerate souls. The unbeliever finds no value in the Gospel and its messengers. They are dead in their trespasses. They cannot discern spiritual matters. The enemies of the Gospel resist the Word of God and seek to destroy the messengers.
And Jesus continued:
7"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8"For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
At first glance, the text before us seems to indicate that Jesus concluded His lesson on the Kingdom perspective and embarked on a new subject matter. While that might not be a wrong assumption in one sense, the text before us and the following verses are not totally unrelated to the essential theme of Jesus' Sermon. These are concluding verses of the Sermon on the Mount bearing Jesus' assuring words to us.
Jesus knows that we struggle to faithfully express our words and actions in keeping with the sacred principles of the Kingdom perspective. He knows that the Kingdom principles are contrary to our natural inclinations. While we can learn the list of precepts by rote, we desperately need God's wisdom and strength to walk worthy of our faith and vocation in Christ.
So Jesus tells us to pray and receive. That is, we ask what we need believing that our Father in heaven is willing, able, and ready to give us all that we need. We seek what we need believing that He, our Father, will help us find that which is given. We knock at the door of His Will so He would open the door and let us in. Simply put, Jesus tells us to have faith in His faithfulness. Therefore, we ask, seek, and knock at the door for all the wisdom and resources we need to live as true children of the Kingdom.
And Jesus continued:
9"Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?
10"Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?
11"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
12"In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
It turns out that the issue at hand is a matter of understanding and faith. Jesus shows us the truth by reasoning from the lesser to the Greater. That is, the lesser that we know quite well to the Greater we should understand and believe. He taps into our own favorable disposition toward the young moving us to consider the supreme excellence of God's Goodness toward His children.
Once again, Jesus exhorts us to have faith in our Father's faithfulness, love, and care. We should not doubt Him, because, if as sinful parents we do well by our children when they ask us for bread or fish, then how much more would our loving Father do for us when we ask, seek, and knock? We are sinful and, therefore, evil. And yet, we know to do good. But He is Holy and Righteous, would He not do even better? We are unreliable, and yet we know to keep our promises for those who depend on us. We provide hope to our children. . But He is faithful and trustworthy. Would He not do even better? If man's evil heart can express a degree of kindness, how much more would God lavish His Love and Grace upon His own out of His infinite Goodness?
So be reasonable in your treatment of others, says Jesus to us. Do not judge or condemn anyone. Treat each individual as you would have God treat you in His Love and Grace. In summation, what we have traditionally designated as "The Golden Rule" is actually the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. But Jesus insists that we go beyond passive observance and diligently fulfill the Kingdom principles with deliberate obedience, active benevolence, and a joyful disposition.
As the Sermon on the Mount draws closer to its concluding verses, we find ourselves confronted with the reality of the gaping rift between our claim to faith and our behavior as Christians. Jesus gives us more instructions than just directing us to refrain from judging others and becoming faultfinders. Jesus declares three kingdom imperatives which facilitate our exclusive dependence upon God so we may no longer lean on our own understanding.
Jesus tells us to ask, seek, and knock. These perpetual practices constrain us to look to God, to expect from God, and to go to God in all that we need and do. Only then do we catch the slightest glimpse of the profound care and protection that the Father has provided for us, His children. Only then does the Spirit of the kingdom pervade our souls and fill us with a wondrous awe that the Father does actually love us so much.
It is in the spirit of this divine forgiveness that we find ourselves able to understand and commiserate with those hapless souls we meet on this life’s journey. Then we can approach our fellow travelers, not in the spirit of critical judgment and destructive faultfinding, but in the perfect understanding that we, too, have walked the pathway of sin and rebellion. The message is clear. Jesus wants to see His own attributes reflected in the lives of those for whom He died on the Cross at Calvary.