Truth Taught- God is the good Father who gives His children the righteousness He requires.
Jesus has laid out in this most famous sermon many things the Christian is called to be and do. Most all His words are counter-cultural. They go against what we are used to hearing. He’s given us the Beatitudes and shown us things like the blessed person is the one who is poor in spirit, mourns over his sin, is meek, pure in heart etc. He tells us we are to be culture influencers, namely the salt and light in our world. Jesus taught that sin begins with our mind and even emotions. Anger, adultery etc begin in our thoughts and actually lead to the sin of the actual act. He taught us mercy rather than wrath even or maybe especially when our enemies are concerned.
Give to those in need but don’t do it like the hypocrites who want everyone to know they’re giving. Jesus taught us how to pray properly by giving us a model to go by. He taught us about fasting and praying and giving. He explained that the real treasure is the one we lay up in heaven. He went on to say to not be anxious while laying up treasure in heaven. Seek God’s righteousness because unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees we will have no part of God’s Kingdom.
Now, I’m not sure about you but for me, to accomplish these wondrous godly character traits and godly actions I need help. I don’t need human help but God’s. So, our Lord wants us to see where our help can be found and He wants us to see that God as our Father is ready and willing to help us in acquiring the righteousness that He requires.
Matthew 5:16 (ESV)
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:48 (ESV)
48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 6:33 (ESV)
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
These are but a sampling of what God requires of all His children. Now we might have the tendency to become overwhelmed and even depressed when we realize all God commands us. The reality is even on a good day we are not perfect in this.
God has supplied perfect righteousness in Jesus Christ for all who believe possess the white robe of righteousness. While we wait for our salvation to be fully revealed, we are to actually be seeking this righteousness. How can we grow in righteousness while we wait for the return of our Lord? How can we grow in Christian maturity?
Jesus makes certain demands because God cannot and will not grade on a curve. He will not say we’ll he tried really hard…
Our God makes demands because He is perfect we must be perfect. The reality is we are not perfect. You have never lived a second in the perfection God requires. Jesus came to die for our sin and give us the perfection God requires. God makes the demand and then gives us what He demands in Christ. Jesus delivered us from all our sin. We must realize that sin is all the things that are not perfect like God. We think sin is stealing or murdering but sin is also our utter failure to stand up to God’s perfect scrutiny. We all fall short of the glory of God every day with no excuse.
One thing that’s amazing beloved is that God, rather than reducing His righteousness to line up with ours gives us His righteousness in Christ. As we believe God sees us clothed in the white robe of Jesus’ perfect righteousness. When we are born again by faith we are given this perfect standing before God.
Now, God wants us to actually begin to grow in this area to actually be moving forward in righteousness we call this sanctification. Are you tired of sin? Are you tired of living a life that doesn’t bring God the glory He deserves? Are you weary of struggling with some particular sin? Would you like to move past it and walk closer with Jesus on a more consistent basis?
Jesus tells us how in this passage…
Matthew 7:7–11 (ESV)
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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 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!
1. Be Persistent In Asking
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
God our Father will give us His gracious aid when we ask, seek and knock. Isn’t this a great promise Jesus makes to His followers?
Here’s the dynamic at work…unfortunately the English translation hides it from us some. The Greek goes like this: Ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking. We are to be persistent in our prayers for righteousness.
This is much like the passage in Jeremiah…
Jeremiah 29:12–13 (ESV)
12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Jesus promises that when we come to God in prayer for the things God commands we will find the answer to our prayers. We also should understand that we will not receive all the answers at once, that’s why we are told to be persistent in our asking. Call on God daily to give you the righteousness He commands and when we do we will receive what we seek. This is a wonderful example of praying in Jesus’ name, isn’t it?
John 14:13–14 (ESV)
13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
We also see a parallel verse in James…
James 1:5 (ESV)
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Our Lord’s emphasis here in verse 7 is on our Heavenly Father who gives and opens to us all we need. This is not the beggar’s ethic that says if you ask enough you’ll wear God out and He’ll give you what you ask. No, Jesus is showing us that God our Father desires to give us what we need to grow as Christians. He’s desiring to give what we ask for.
Our Lord divides our asking into three phases.
Ask- general term, which means simply ask in prayer.
Seek- implies that we may not know exactly what to pray for or how to pray.
Romans 8:26–27 (ESV)
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We are sinful and evil people at our core and beloved we do not often know what to pray for because we don’t often know what we need. True righteousness is foreign to us so we may not know what to pray for.
Jesus tells us He’s got that covered. The Holy Spirit is working while we pray. Because He is God He knows what God requires and what we need. Seek is the word for praying consistently for things we may not even know we need. The further idea is that when we seek we will discover that God comes to meet our need even when we don’t know what that even is.
Knock- here is the word that really shows that we are to be persistent in our praying. We’ve asked and we are seeking and now we are further seeking even to the point of knocking on God’s front door, so to speak. What we desperately need is on the other side of the door. God wants us to knock and when we do He will open the door and give us what we need. The picture here is that God is so ready to give us what we need spiritually that He looking out the window ready to answer the door when we knock.
Why do we think God is hard to get a hold of or He is reluctant to come to our aid? He stands ready to give us what we need.
2. Ask, Knowing You Will Receive
8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened
Let’s soak in Jesus’ promise. He promises that if God’s children come to Him in prayer, asking, seeking, knocking that we will receive, discover, and have the door opened to us. It cannot work any other way because Jesus has just made this promise to us. It has to work like this; there is no other possible outcome to our persistent praying.
If you ask God for specific things you know you need ii your life as a Christian He will answer you and give you what you need. Here’s an amazing part that shows God’s fatherly kindness…even when we don’t know what to ask for or if we ask for the wrong things He will answer our persistent praying with what we really need. When we come to Him He will answer. We have a living God who is sovereign. The key here is God is really the God of the universe who created us and loves us in Christ. He’s not like some idol we have fabricated whether it’s a false belief about God or some material thing we worship and can manipulate to meet some need we have, no, this is the real thing.
Perhaps we are reluctant to pray to God because we are so used to being let down by our idols. We are perhaps so used to coming up short with our false gods we are conditioned to think our Heavenly Father is like them.
Isaiah 45:21–23 (ESV)
21 Declare and present your case;
let them take counsel together!
Who told this long ago?
Who declared it of old?
Was it not I, the Lord?
And there is no other god besides me,
a righteous God and a Savior;
there is none besides me.
22 “Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
23 By myself I have sworn;
from my mouth has gone out in righteousness
a word that shall not return:
‘To me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear allegiance.’
Idols cannot answer prayers. Your house, car, children, bank account, credit cards, job, or anything else on this earth cannot give us anything. They cannot give us what we need. Only God the Father can come to our rescue and meet our deepest needs.
So, unlike the deaf and dead idol…
3. Your Heavenly Father Hears and Answers
9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 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!
Jesus assures us that God, our Father hears and answers us. To show this He tells us a short parable on the love of an earthly father.
No good father will give his child anything less that what they need. If your child is hungry and asks for bread you are going to answer their request with bread not a stone. If your child asks for a fish a good father will always answer with a fish not a serpent. Now, Jesus reminds us that actually there are no good people because all are sinners and evil at the core. His logical argument from the least to the greater goes like this:
11 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!
Even a sinful person loves his children. So, think about the love of your Heavenly Father who is without the stain of sin. Think of the love of your Heavenly Father who knows what we need and stands ready to give it.
The good gifts that Jesus tells us that come from God are the things He knows we need.
JC Ryle tells us…Do we indeed pray? Then let us pray on, and not faint. It is not lost labour; it is not useless: it will bear fruit after many days. Those words have never yet failed everyone that asks receives.
Why this persistence?
Luke 11:5–9 (ESV)
5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
If a friend who is reluctant to answer does answer after persistent prayer then how much more will our Heavenly Father answer who wants to answer as we persist in prayer?
Luke 18:1–8 (ESV)
18 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ ” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
God answers persistence because prayer is building trust and dependence upon God. He doesn’t answer us every time immediately because when we pray for spiritual growth, part of it comes as we consistently come to God by faith asking Him for the things we know He desires us to have. This persistent praying is part of the answer. We are getting from God what He requires as we pray we are growing. Interaction with God causes the growth we pray for.
Beloved, pray hard, pray consistently, pray often for the spiritual growth God desires you to have and watch what strides in holiness can be made as God answers.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened
Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary
A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles
A Gospel of Matthew by France
Matthew by Craig Bloomberg
Matthew by Doriani
Matthew by Charles Price
Matthew by Leon Morris
Blue Letter Bible