“Your Father who is in heaven [will] give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11
In this next section of the sermon, Jesus urges us to ask God for the things on our hearts. Verse 7 presents a very active scene: the person is presently engaged in reaching out for what she wants. And she does not work in vain! She has a loving Father who is eager to meet her needs.
Perhaps it all seems too good to be true, which is why Jesus gives us another image. He wants us to think about how real world parents treat their children, how even though human parents are full of sin, they still delight to give their kids good stuff. Now as an undergraduate, you probably don’t have kids of your own yet, and maybe you didn’t even have a great experience with your own parents. But even feeling how off a bad parent relationship is can be a pointer to what it’s supposed to be like. Jesus wants us to see what a good parenting relationship can look like, and then imagine that infinitely expanded. This starts to give us an image of how much more God is the ultimate Father: his love is unbounded, as are his resources. Our freedom and confidence to ask is not at all based on whether we deserve it (we don’t) or whether we can earn it (we can’t), but entirely on his character.
This is freedom indeed, purchased for us by Jesus and given for our joy! The radical nature of this teaching demands that we stop and pray, examining our hearts. Do we believe this? What are some barriers in our hearts to fully grasping it, or to asking for what is on our hearts? This is a great topic to discuss with more mature believers, to hear about how they’ve seen God show up in their lives, and to hear about how their growth in pursuing God’s kingdom first has also transformed even the things they ask for. But don’t let examination and conversation stop you from boldly putting this teaching in to practice. As you pray, in faith begin to ask God for what’s on your heart, and be real with him as to how you feel about asking. He loves you, he wants to hear your heart.
Beginning to dream about what we can ask God for, how we can see him show up in our lives is actually a great place to consider the meaning of verse 12, which in some sense can stand on its own. It’s been called the Golden Rule, and is a cornerstone of the ethic of Jesus. He states that this principle, doing to others what you want done to you, sums up the entire Old Testament—Amazing!
Just thinking about “ask…seek…knock” in relation to ourselves is not wrong; it can be an important first step in practicing greater trust in God based on who he is. But the Lord wants us to experience the same joy he has in working for the good of others. There is life in being on God’s side, loving what he loves, and he has proven that his love for human beings is incredible. As you process things you want to ask for in faith for yourself, begin to dream too how you can pray for God’s blessings to come in the lives of your family, your friends at school, and in the lives of those around you. Dream about acts of kindness and help that you can do for others as a reflection of God’s love for them. You may be surprised at how God works in your heart along the way!