Summary: Matthew 7:7-12 Ask and you shall receive
Ask and you shall receive
Today we are looking at Matthew 7:7-12. You could say we are entering the final lap – the final chapter - of the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount covers some very diverse topics. Witnessing about Jesus – being salt and light. The relationship of the Old Testament Law to Christians. Anger and murder and right relations between Christians – and others. Lust, flirting, marriage, adultery, divorce and remarriage. Telling the truth and taking oaths. Loving our enemies and not retaliating. Giving to the needy. Correct attitudes in giving, fasting and prayer. Prayer – how and what to pray for. What we do with our money. Anxiety. Judging others and dealing with conflict.
Such a diverse range of topics, but yet there’s been a common element to just about everything in the sermon in the Mount, and that is that they are tough to do. Very tough. In fact, the Sermon on the Mount possibly has the highest concentration of tough to do commands in the whole Bible. Things like not even calling your brother a fool, or lusting after someone, or letting other people know how much you are giving away, or telling the truth all the time – even on your tax return, or turning the other cheek when someone hurts you, or focusing your money and energy on the Kingdom of God rather than the material things of this world. Tough. Any one of those things is tough, let alone all of them. And the requirements of the Sermon on the Mount are so tough that a lot of teaching out there on the Sermon on the Mount actually tries to explain away Jesus’ demands - to make them less tough, more palatable to our ears. But we’ve been learning as we go through the Sermon on the Mount, that if we really believe that this is God’s word, the inerrant, infallible, accurate word of God, then we have no right to tone down Jesus’ words and we must take them at face value – even if they are tough.
And as we go through the Sermon on the Mount it seems like there’s just more and more seemingly impossible demands that Jesus places on us, and there’s only a couple of places in the whole Sermon on the Mount that it seems like we can come up for a breath of air. And today is one such passage! Phew! What is today’s passage? Well we’ve just heard it read out. It’s a wonderful promise that when we ask God for good things, He will give them! It’s nice to have a promise to help us through life! But let’s have a look at this promise – what does it mean?
Matthew 77 “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.
On the face of it, it looks as though whatever we ask for, whatever we seek, whatever door we open, God will give it to us. And some people take this to mean just about everything. Many of you have heard of the Prosperity Gospel, otherwise known as the Health and Wealth Gospel. It says that God wants all Christians to be wealthy and healthy, and they say that if you are a Christian and you are not living in financial abudance and good health, then you aren’t living the victorious Christian life, and all you need to do is stand on the promises of God and claim your inheritance as a child of God - your inheritance which includes financial wealth and good health in this world. And one of the verses they use to support this doctrine is our passage today - Ask, and it will be given to you. That’s it – the reason you aren’t wealthy, or at least living in financial abudance - the reason you aren’t healthy, and that you are sick - is because you haven’t asked and haven’t believed God in what you are asking for. Well, is this what this passage is saying?
Well to understand this passage we must look at the whole passage, and also to look at its context. First – a little bit of it’s context. This passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount, and this passage is dealing with asking God for things. In other words – it is dealing with prayer. This passage today is basically dealing with the effectiveness of prayer. That is, that God does actually hear and answer prayer. Now this is not the first time the Sermon on the Mount has talked about prayer. Where else have we come across prayer in the Sermon on the Mount? Well – the most obvious, is the Lord’s Prayer! Matthew 6:9-13. In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus told us what to pray for. That is, He told us what sort of things we should be praying for, what sort of things we should be asking for.