Matthew 7: 7-12 Seeking God and Right Relationships

James Tissot, The Lord’s Prayer (1896-1894)

Matthew 7: 7-12

Parallels Luke 11: 9-13, Luke 6: 31

7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

The vision of the Sermon on the Mount relies upon the fundamental assumption that God is trustworthy. Asking God for what the petitioner needs assumes that God is trustworthy in providing daily bread and all the petitioner needs. The rhythm of ask, seek, knock each followed by a positive answer to the action and then the second restating of everyone who asks, searches and knocks receiving, finding and having the door opened reinforces this view of God’s trustworthiness. The Father that Jesus has encouraged his disciples to pray to will give what is needed to those who ask of him.

Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures there are continual calls for the people of Israel to ask or seek the LORD their God, and the God we meet in the scriptures desires for God’s people to ask and seek. Sometimes this is stated in terms of promise, for example:

Ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession Psalm 2:8

Other times, it indicates an openness to repentance, that even once the relationship seems broken that God is open to reforming the covenant if they people if they will seek God.

From there (the places where you are scattered) you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul. Deuteronomy 4: 29

Ultimately the way of wisdom is to continue to be in a relationship with God and to continue to ask, seek and knock, as in 1 Chronicles

Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually. 1 Chronicles 16: 11 (this is also Psalm 105:4)

Yet, the strongest resonance with Matthew 7 comes from Isaiah where God desires to be sought and asked but the people do not seek or ask

I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices. Isaiah 65:1-2

The Sermon on the Mount is continuing to restate important themes in different ways to attempt to communicate what righteousness looks like in practice. Followers of Jesus in Matthew 6: 5-15 are instructed in what asking God looks like in the context of prayer. Seeking first the kingdom of God[1] and God’s righteousness are now reinforced as things that the seeking one will find. God knows what the asking one needs, desires to be sought by those who are willing to ask and seek, to open the door for those who are willing to knock, to give good gifts to God’s children like earthly parents who love their children do for their own.

A right relationship with God is tied with a right relationship with others. As in Matthew 22: 37-38 where the two greatest commandments are loving God with all one’s heart, mind, soul and strength and the neighbor as oneself, so here asking and seeking God is tied to the golden rule in relation to one’s neighbor. The law and the prophets are summed up here by Jesus as doing to others as you would have them do to you. Some form of the golden rule occurs in most religious traditions including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Confucianism.  Most religious traditions have realized the wisdom of this practice of treating others as one would like to be treated. This way of living in relation to others is not dependent on how others act towards you, but instead the follower of Jesus is to act towards the other in a way that models the righteousness they would desire to receive.

[1] Even though the NRSV in Matthew 6:33 begins “But strive first for the kingdom of God” the word translated strive in Matthew 6 is translated by the NRSV as seek here obscuring the parallel language and themes in Matthew 7:7-8

This entry was posted in Biblical Reflections, Gospel of Matthew and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Matthew 7: 7-12 Seeking God and Right Relationships

  1. Pingback: Gospel of Matthew Chapters 1-7 | Sign of the Rose

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.