Our concepts of good and bad, and thus, of the nature of God and the nature of man, are very limited, very small. If God’s thoughts and ways are as high as the heavens are above the earth, there must be a good deal that we do not know about the nature, and person of God. Thank God for the coming of Jesus Christ, and the teaching which He gives us. How could we begin to see clearly without Him?
In Matthew’s gospel, chapter 7:7, we find the Lord Jesus giving us a lesson on fellowship with God. It is a fellowship that involves very definite interaction, not only as we act, but as He responds. This communion to which He calls us is a series of interactions, we might even say, transactions. It begins with the heart’s desire. If we read these words in Matthew 7, and our hearts desire is that they should be realized in us, then we can be sure that the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, and seeking to draw out our hearts to God. But there is in this passage, a teaching concerning the nature and person of God that is so fundamental to our fellowship with Him, that we must grasp it, and live by it. Indeed, it is an essential part of the bedrock upon which our faith must rest.
“Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?” If ever there was a question that should awaken in us a terrible expression of our natures, it is this question. Here we have a child, a son, who is hungry, and a father who has the capacity and means to alleviate that hunger, and this out of duty and love. But then there is the revelation that the nature of man is such the he just might, out of sheer selfishness, give to his son a stone to eat instead of bread. We are repulsed at this thought, much like David was repulsed by the illustration of the rich man who took the poor man’s lamb that he cherished and used it to feed a visiting guest. And so, this cannot be the nature of man. It must not be. But it is …. at times, though not the everyday occurrence. Then comes the teaching of the Lord concerning the contrasting nature and person of God. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, HOW MUCH MORE shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?”
And so, the Lord takes us first to see what we are, possessing an “evil” nature diametrically opposed to the nature of God, and then revealing to us that God is infinitely more giving, in his motive and in the resources that He possesses, than we are. Indeed, He would have us to understand that even as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His goodness, and His giving, that we scarce can take it in.
There is a phrase of an old hymn which reads, “Can I doubt His tender mercy, who through life has been my Guide?” (All The Way My Savior Leads Me – Fanny Crosby) Alas, we can. We have such a small, narrow idea and concept of God, that we do doubt His tender mercy. But Christ, by this illustration, draws us out beyond the bounds of our littleness, to look carefully at the reality of the heart of God. He is the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Even the Apostle Paul declares in Romans 8:32, “…and how shall He not with Him (Christ) also freely give us all things?” O that we would grasp the goodness of God, His loving heart, His bountiful spirit, His commitment and desire to give that which is good, and this from Heaven by the Spirit. So then, what hinders me from proving Him, from interacting with Him, from coming to know Him, His goodness? The answer is simple, “I am my own greatest enemy.”
One last illustration…In 2 Chronicles 1:7, the Lord appeared to Solomon, the son of David, who had just ascended to the throne, and said to him, “Ask what I shall give thee.” Now, Solomon was a young man when he was made king of Israel, and I am sure that he could have been selfish in his demands, but he was not. Of all the things that he could have requested, he asked this of God, “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?” Solomon asked wonderful things of God, in order to have to give to others. The Lord Jesus in this passage in Matthew 7 declares the same thing, with regard to our requests, “Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them…” God gives to us that we may give to others, and this freely, and without reserve. This is how He enables us to love those around us, by selflessly trusting Him to give to us what is necessary so that we can give to others. “Freely you have received, freely give.”
Dear Lord, this day, this morning, cleanse our hearts and minds thoroughly, and strengthen us constantly, that we should be in that attitude, disposition, to receive of Thy fullness in order to love others. Fill us with the knowledge of Thy will, that which is good and perfect, and may our lives be truly channels of blessing and life for others. “Give to us in this hour to prove, the sweet omnipotence of Thy love,” for Thou wilt never give us a stone for bread. We would indeed open our mouths, our hearts, wide that Thou shouldst fill them this day. Amen.
Have a wonderful “receiving to give” day…