The Sermon on the Mount is filled with cool Christian slogans. You know, the kind of sayings that find themselves on coffee cups or framed pictures for your office. The thing I most despise about these (the slogans, not the verses) are that most people do not rightly understand what they mean. They have been taken out of context for so long, not many people correctly understand their meaning. Yesterday as I preached through Matthew 7:7-12, I found myself having to deal with two of these famous Christian slogans.
The two pictures in this blog post tell you which ones I had to deal with. As I studied this passage, I realized that as Christians, we should live dependently upon the Lord for all things. But that does not mean we live passively! We are to be crying out to Him for all things in life. But Matthew 7:7 (Ask, Seek, & Knock) was never meant to be a prescription for some sort of "name it, claim it" theology. It was never meant to cure the ales of our physical poverty.
I am not saying that we should never pray for physical things (for instance, I keep asking, seeking, & knocking in regards to a house for us to have here in Ohio). But what I am saying is that fit into the context of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' words here have nothing to do with our pursuit of luxurious, material possessions. Jesus' half-brother, James, drives the point home:
"You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, sot hat you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?" (James 4:2-4)
Jesus wants us to continue to ask and beg of Him for help (we know that because each of those commands are seen in the present tense, meaning keep asking; keep seeking; keep knocking). But He wants us to ask for things that are not worldly with pure motives.
Take some time and read back over the Sermon on the Mount until this point. You will see that the point Jesus is trying to make is that we cannot do it ourselves. We cannot be pure or avoid anger in our heart. We cannot be completely truthful. We cannot avoid worry or being worldly. Without His Help!
We cannot even follow the simplest summary of His teaching, to do to others what we would have them to to us without His help. We could make lists upon lists of things to do in order to keep the Golden Rule and they would all fail. It won't change us. What to know why? Because our greatest problem is what is found on the inside of us, it is our heart. And our only hope is to cry out, keep asking, keep knocking on that door for God to change us from the inside out. Our only hope is to live dependently upon the Lord. Not passively, but actively seeking His help in everything.
If you want to listen to the entire sermon, you can find it HERE (usually posted by Tuesday afternoon).