Thursday, 1st Week of Lent – Good things in God’s time –Matthew 7: 7-12
Today we study 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 and spans three chapters.
When we read this text, we feel bound to ask if this Gospel is true? On the surface, it sounds like we have just been asked to make a wish list. We think of Jesus’ words as carte blanche. It looks as though whatever we ask for, whatever we seek, whatever door we open, God will give it to us. Hence, some people take this to mean just about everything; you can have whatever your heart desires, all you have to do is ask. Yet, so often our prayers seem to go unheard or unanswered. We tend to feel that our prayer was such a waste of time.
This passage also raises certain questions; one from the text itself and the other a consequence of the thoughts in our heart. First, what does the word, ‘it’, refer to in the sentence, “ask and ‘it’ will be given to you?” In other words, when Jesus said, “ask, and it will be given you,” what might we expect to receive? The second, what is the ‘it’ in our life? In other words, if we were to ask God for something, what would it be?
This way of thinking pushes our materialistic nature and plays on the thought that if we ask God for anything (since he said so) we could have anything we wanted, as if in having IT (there is that word again) we would be happy. It sounds like “ask, and it will be given you” is a blank cheque, where all you have to do is fill in the amount and sit back. This way of thinking brings out the worst in us and leads us to think of life in terms of material wealth and of God as the ultimate sugar daddy.
This text is also misused especially by those who preach the prosperity gospel, sometimes also known as the health and wealth gospel. Such teachings say that God wants all Christians to be wealthy and healthy, and that if you are a Christian and you are not living in financial abundance and good health it is because you haven’t asked and haven’t believed God in what you are asking for. All you need to do is stand on the promises of God and claim your inheritance as a child of God.