Fish or Snake

Matthew 7: 7 – 11, 12

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

This passage has been on my mind a lot lately, but I wasn’t inclined to write on it. Not every verse that comes to me is for the Word of the Day. Some are just for me. It kept circling around and around though, different parts of it at different times because, as you see, there are several parts to this. It wasn’t until I sat down with my Bible and read through it that I realized that verses 7 through 11 were part of the same message. I was thinking about our Father being a good father who would not give us a snake if we asked for a fish. Then another day ask, seek, and knock came to my mind. I wasn’t putting it all together in my head. Then when I actually took the time to see the words, I found another interesting tidbit, i.e. verse 12. What is going on here? There appear to be at least three thoughts here, yet it seems Jesus delivered all this, practically, in one breath. Could it be these are all related?

That is the message I received out of this passage. God is not denying me anything, or you. We should ask expecting to receive, seek expecting to find and knock expecting God to open the door to us. However, the grease on the hinges of the door just might be the way I treat people. Worse, what if the way I think about people or talk about them, even in private, affects my receiving, finding and opening?

I am trying to learn to be much less judgmental and much more compassionate. One person’s acts, thoughts or words can look very wrong from our perspective and not even wrong in a sinful way but just “not right.” That is a hard lesson. Sometimes the world is very different from their spot on the earth and that difference yields different thoughts and choices. So, from my perspective their decisions may look completely ridiculous but be completely rational from theirs.

Even when you know someone to be wrong, there are times you just have to let them be. I am a teacher, so I want to teach. I need, though, to learn not to judge them or their ideas bur rather just accept them where they are. What a challenge! However, I think this is part of what Jesus wants from us. It is not a blessing to others when I judge them.

The judgement and condemnation we pass on others just might be causing our door to remain stuck closed. That is frightening. What do you think your Father has to say about this? Do you journal with Yahweh? This might be a good question to take to Him. What, if anything, does verse 12 have to do with 7 through 11?

Our Father wants to give us good gifts and bless us. He said to ask, and we would receive. Perhaps if we think about and speak about people in a gracious manner it will be easier for us to receive of His goodness.

The Golden Rule

Matthew 7: 12

Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

I have a couple of observations about this verse today. First, I don’t hear this proverb bantered about these days like I used to. Is it still in vogue? I think Jesus would say it is still applicable.

Another observation, Jesus said that this one principle satisfies the entire law as well as all the instruction from the prophets. In other words, today’s verse, when we live it, fulfills everything that was written in the Old Testament, all the Mosaic law and all the books of the Prophets. That’s big. Follow this one maxim and you have fulfilled the law. That is amazing. It also shows the Father’s heart. If it fulfills the law then the core of His message.

The most interesting part of this verse, though, is that it begins with the word, therefore. “Therefore,” announces the conclusion of what has gone before. In this case, before this verse Jesus was talking about prayer. From verse seven through eleven, Jesus is giving encouragement to pray saying, everyone who asks receives, etc. So, what does today’s verse have to do with prayer and receiving answers to prayer? In verses one – six Jesus was preaching about judgment telling us that we should not judge others. So, this chapter looks like this: don’t judge; ask, seek and knock, treat others as you would like to be treated. There is his message. If you want to be happy follow Jesus’ outline. Treat others well, don’t judge and expect the goodness of God to manifest in your life.

Ask God for what you want. Expect Him to give it to you but don’t fail to recognize that the asking, seeking and knocking is sandwiched between non-judgment and kindness towards others. Give and it shall be given to you (Luke 6: 38). Be kind and you shall reap the kindness of God.

 Why the Golden Rule?

Matthew 7: 12

Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

God spent the entire Old Testament pointing out the way we should go. He gave us rules which were meant to guide us and keep us from harm. I think of these statements from God as very similar to when we tell a child not to touch the burner on the stove. That instruction is not meant to rob the child of any liberty but rather to protect him. This is what the Law and the Prophets did for us. Those words point out the safe and also lucrative paths.

So, with that background, we reach the question of why we should adhere to the Golden Rule. Another way we have heard the Golden Rule stated is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, treat people the way you want to be treated. Well, why? The answer is because it is in your best interest. When we truly understand that the Kingdom of God operates according to the principle of sowing and reaping then so many of the Bible’s admonitions make sense. Father God gives us specific directions because He knows what the outcome will be for us. As you have undoubtedly heard many pastors teach, forgiveness of someone is not for their sake but for your own.

God has marked out the path. He has advised us of actions specifically to do, as above and acts to intentionally avoid, such as judging others. His motivation in giving these guidelines is the same for each. He is attempting to bring us into a good place. He has demarcation lines which, if followed, will lead us to the land flowing with milk and honey. We fail to follow the correct path sometimes because it looks like a path of rules and restrictions. Nothing could be further from divine reality. In absolute truth, these pathways lead us to greater freedom, victory and success. All the ways of God are filled with His glory and goodness. His aim is to lead you in the way you should go so that you avoid pain and experience success. So, when you read the Bible and see what looks to you like a rule, refocus your eyes and see advice from the wisest of all, advice which will always lead you into abundance and joy. Such is the Golden Rule. Be kind to others. Treat them as you wish they would treat you because God wants to nurture and fertilize your good seed.