If we’re honest, I think most will agree that some gifts are better than others.
As a child, I recall that it did not take me long to figure out who was most likely to buy me new dress socks and who was going to buy me the assortment of Star Wars figures and Atari video games that I had been coveting for Christmas.
There were some gifts that I would enjoy regularly for years, and there were other gifts that I…well, I’ve probably said enough!
On one occasion when Jesus was teaching His followers about prayer, He used the analogy of gift-giving to make His point. Jesus’ instruction on this is massively encouraging. If you’ve ever imagined God to be a reluctant giver, if you’ve ever imagined prayer to be tantamount to twisting God’s arm to get what you want, Jesus sets us straight:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you…Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:7, 9-11)
I realize that there is a way to misinterpret what Jesus is teaching here. There is a way of looking at this and imagining that God is like a Divine vending machine, and if we push the correct buttons, that which we desire will be given to us. However, Jesus doesn’t promise that prayer is the means by where we acquire what we want. But rather, prayer is the means whereby we receive “good gifts” from God.
As much as I’d like to think that I always know what is best for me, I have to admit that I don’t. As a finite being, I have very little clue, for example, how my actions and circumstances intersect with those of other people. Because of my limited perspective, I am incapable of knowing what constitutes a “good gift” in every instance.
God, on the other hand, as the Holy and Sovereign ruler of the Universe is uniquely positioned to determine what is the best “gift” to give to me. What we have then in this passage is the assurance that God is eager to give us what is best for us. Luke’s version of this same account actually identifies one of the “good gifts”. In Luke 11:13 Jesus says, “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”
Here we see that God not only supplies His resources, but He also supplies Himself.
Have you ever asked God to give you His Spirit? And if you have asked God for this, do you realize that the Spirit of God is not something to be merely asked for once, but that the Spirit of God can be accessed and engaged daily?
I hear Jesus saying that the Holy Spirit can be accessed immediately, frequently, and for all eternity. What is required is simply that we “ask”, “seek”, and “knock”.
On Sunday December 13, at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well, I delivered a message on this passage. If you’re interested in hearing more about how receiving and regularly accessing the Spirit of Christ can transform our lives, then I encourage you to have a listen (audio below).
If you proceed to ask, seek, and knock on the door of the One who gives “good gifts”, I am confident that you will discover that the Spirit is what we need the most. I am confident that you will discern that the Holy Spirit is the best gift, from the Best Gift-Giver.