‘Thank you, Lord God, for being my heavenly Father. Help me to grasp more fully the depth of your love and the security I have in you. Amen.’
Ask, seek, knock
7 ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 ‘Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
The golden rule (v 12) is a continuation of Jesus’ teaching on the kind of relationships kingdom people should have with each other (7:1–5). So, why does Jesus deviate from his relationship theme with comments about prayer and God’s character (vs 9–11)? Could it be that our relationship with others depends on our understanding of what God is like? If we constantly worry about ourselves, we will have no space to think of others.
As we begin to grasp the scale and scope of Father God’s goodness and love for us – understanding that he desires to give us, his children, everything necessary for us to grow and flourish (v 11) – the vice-like grip of self-preservation begins to loosen. Understanding that our heavenly Father is always available to us (v 7), always listens and always responds (v 8) gives us a profound security. As we rely on our rock-steady heavenly Father, knowing he will give us what we need, when we need it (v 11), we are freed from self-reliance and worry. We are freed to be like our Father, to see and respond to the needs of others (v 12).
Whatever is on your mind, take it to your Father God. Then ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of how you might meet a need for someone else today.
Deeper Bible study
… when I am weak, then I am strong.’1
Those who first heard the Sermon may have felt overwhelmed by their inadequacy to meet the standards of life within the kingdom of God. Jesus recognises that his teaching seems to raise the bar very high and that to take his instructions literally, in a world shaped by completely different values, will seem impossible. Historically, Christianity has often reached this conclusion and found ways of interpreting the Sermon that toned down its radical demands.
This passage is not, therefore, a context-less exhortation to prayer, but a reminder that we are not left to our own resources as we strive to follow the way of Jesus Christ. The Sermon on the Mount can shape disciples’ daily practice of life, provided they recognise their continual need of the grace and love of God. The Father in heaven will give ‘good gifts’ (v 11) to all who ask, enabling them to live in imitation of Jesus.
In 1937 CF [Charlie] Andrews left England for the final time to return to India. The friend of Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore, he had endeavoured to put the Sermon on the Mount into practice throughout his life and was criticised by British imperialists and fellow missionaries as an ‘extremist’. Yet his life deeply impressed Hindus, as a letter from an Indian friend illustrates: ‘You know that during the intimate friendship of all these years I have never asked you about Christ, for your own personality has been more than sufficient for me … you have lived like Him all these thirty years in India’.2 In the era of world Christianity imagine the impact if the whole church were to take the Sermon on the Mount seriously!
Give thanks for those whose lives reflected the character of Jesus and gave you encouragement. Ask for grace to have such an influence on young people known to you.
1 2 Cor 12:10 2 CF Andrews, The Sermon on the Mount, Collier Books, 1962, p11
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: Genesis 39,40; Matthew 14
Pray for Scripture Union
Pray for south-west regional team leader Margaret Lilley and the team as they meet with Mission Partner South West Youth Ministries today. Pray that they may see how to maximise their resources to make Jesus known to the 95 in the region.