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 Tail of the Snake

Exodus 4: 2 – 4

And the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he [Moses] said, “A staff.” Then He said, “Throw it on the ground” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. But the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail” – so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand.

I wonder how much time elapsed between when Moses fled and when he picked up the serpent by its tail. I think most of us would have fled when the staff turned into a serpent. What distinguishes Moses from many of us is that he did grab the serpent’s tail. 

Has God ever told you to do something that made absolutely no sense? What was your reaction? I know what I would have done if I was in Moses’ position. I would have said to myself, “That cannot be God telling me to grab the snake. Surely God wouldn’t tell me to grab a snake by the tail.” I would have talked myself out of it. There is an important life lesson in here. God is trying to lead us into the promised land but too many of us don’t obey His commands. When God told me to close my law practice and go into full time ministry I reasoned and thought until I talked myself out of following God. I convinced myself that I was not hearing God’s voice. It took a major event before I conceded that I was being led to leave the practice of law. I reasoned myself out of obedience. Looking back I can see that God had been nudging me for quite a while and I just couldn’t or wouldn’t hear Him. We will never get where we want to go if we do not follow God’s instructions. The road to the promised land is always paved with obedience.

When I think about some of the ridiculous things that God told people in the Bible stories to do it makes me laugh. The thing that makes them great stories, though, is that the people obeyed God and followed those outlandish directions. How many would-be Bible heroes do you think missed inclusion in the greatest book of all time because they reasoned away the instructions of God? Well, just be grateful that I wasn’t the one who was told to grab the snake’s tail. The nation of Israel would still be in Egypt. However, you could be the next great spiritual hero. Just do what God says. Don’t question His logic. Don’t reason. Just be a child and trust your Dad.