The Fatherhood of God, The Father who Cares for Us
Read Matthew 7:7-11
“How much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask him!”
When I was a child, there was nothing better than a half of sandwich left in a metal lunch box sitting in the sun all day. When my dad came in from working in the fields all day, we would rush to his lunch box and see if there was anything left, for his sandwiches were regarded by us as one of the great delicacies of modern cooking. Surprisingly, there was often something left that we would then enjoy with rapturous delight. It was not until I was much older and reflecting back on those discoveries that I realized it was not because mom always gave him more in his lunch than he could eat. The reason there was often some tasty morsel left was because my dad knew we would be looking. It was a father thinking how a little left-over lunch brought joy to his children. Then, when I had children of my own, I too discovered the joy of giving to my children.
In Matthew we find Christ comparing our heavenly Father to our earthly father. As a father, it is our delight not only to give to our children what they need for daily life, but to give them those things that bring them joy. As a father, there are many times we make small sacrifices (sometimes even large sacrifices) just to bring delight to our children. In this context, Christ highlights the basic necessities of the children. Any father would respond to the basic needs of his child--the need for daily food—by providing for them. Furthermore, it would be unthinkable that in the face of a child’s basic needs, the father would actually give him something that would be harmful.
Christ then draws the application. If a human father, who is marred by sin, desires to give good gifts to his children, how much more does our heavenly Father, who is driven by infinite love for us, desire to give us beyond what we need? As our heavenly Father, God delights in giving us those things that bring us joy. Consequently, in verse 7 we are given the invitation to ask. But this invitation is not a blank check that God will do whatever we ask in our selfish, pleasure driven passions. The words “ask,” “seek,” and “knock” are rich in meaning as they progress in focusing upon our relationship with him. The word ask focuses upon the simple prayer and requests. God invites us into an open and honest dialogue where we share with him our needs and desires. But the word “seek” takes this prayer a step further. To seek is to go on a spiritual quest of seeking God and his kingdom (6:33). It is not just to seek what we want; it is to seek God himself. Last the word “knock” suggests that one is knocking on the door of God’s residence in order to gain entrance into his presence.
God is wise enough (as also our earthly fathers) to know that giving us what we want will often bring us harm. Instead, as a loving Father, God desires to give us the greatest gift of all, the gift of himself and a personal relationship with him. In times of uncertainty and difficulty, it is easy to sacrifice the greater (our relationship with God) in search of the lessor (freedom from adversity). But God does much more, for in the midst of our pain he promises his presence, comfort, guidance and help—all we have to do is ask! Instead of praying for want we want (material prosperity and a trouble-free life) ask God to give you himself. That is a prayer that he delights in answering.