“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:6-8
Have you ever felt like you had too much on your plate? And yet every one of the things on your plate were things you had asked for? You just never imagined that they’d all show up at the same time.
Today, I searched the scripture for a deeper understanding of the passage above. Like many other passages, this is one that is used often to encourage a brother or sister who is discouraged. And like many others it is a passage easily misused. Indeed, God is not in the business of forking over whatever our little hearts desire or minds can conceive. Always feeling at risk of misinterpreting God’s Word, I find it extremely worthwhile to understand the context of what I am finding comfort in. So, as I find comfort in the familiar “ask, seek, knock” passage, I am intrigued and challenged by the previous chapter’s instruction.
Matthew chapter 6 includes the also familiar instructions; giving selflessly (Matthew 6:3-4 “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”), proper prayer (Matthew 6:6 “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”) , the warning about the place where we store our treasure (Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”), and the equally challenging warning against our propensity to worry (Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.”) Matthew 6 is packed full of challenging truths!
The fact that these instructions come just before the very freeing permission to ASK God for what we want, SEEK it with the hope of actually finding it and the proverbial KNOCK, that we anticipate will turn into the open door we have been looking for, is humbling. It’s almost as if God set up the boundaries before he said, “Go”. I find a certain comfort in this idea. Just as I have learned as a parent, that my children thrive and are more comfortable when they understand the boundaries, I believe that God, as our Heavenly Father, knows that we too need boundaries. Certainly, if all God said to me was “ask, seek, knock”, I would be tempted to show no restraint and then be terribly disappointed.
Please don’t misunderstand though. I believe in a big God who delights in giving in a big way. I have asked God for many bold things in my life, sometimes without restraint. God’s not mad at me for that. In fact, returning to my “full plate” analogy from the top, I am currently experiencing a flood of blessings related to specific things that I have asked for. It’s worth noting that it is within the my personal effort to seek these things out, that God is allowing me to realize them.
Ask! When we ask God for something, it is in the context of prayer. As in my case, frequent prayer, earnest prayer. God hears us. But He’s unlikely to bestow the blessing without our show of effort–Seek! I love the way that the Matthew Henry Commentary states this, “We must not only ask but seek; we must second our prayers with our endeavors; we must, in the use of the appointed means, seek for that which we ask for, else we tempt (test) God.” And finally, Knock! Think about what happens when you knock at someone’s door. It’s such a common action that we don’t really consider our feeling when we do it, but if we do, there’s a moment of anticipation wondering if someone will come to the door and open it or not. We wonder what their reaction will be when we knock, don’t we? It’s no accident that this precept is concluded with knocking on God’s proverbial door. The ask is easy. Done from far off perhaps, a safe place that’s not too close and demands little interaction. Seeking is a personal thing. I can seek something on my own, again without a great deal of interaction. But knocking demands an expectation. After all, you wouldn’t have knocked if you didn’t expect an answer. In the realest sense, the final step here involves a very personal interaction with God. We may wrestle with God, plead with God. But once we’ve gotten the gumption to knock, it’s in our best interest to keep on knocking. Persevere friends!
The best news is that by Asking, Seeking and Knocking, we are promised to be given to, to find and that the door will indeed be opened.
So, to wrap this up, let us be encouraged once again that though our plates be full and at times we are overwhelmed, remember that we have asked for and sought after many of these things. May we simply recognize the door that’s been opened due to our knocking.