It's All About Context

What looks like one thing often turns out to be something different when seen in its context. That's true with this well-known verse of Scripture: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened" —Matthew 7:7, 8.

And everyone rushes into God's presence with his wish list.

Since Jesus used an illustration about food to describe God's perfect responses to this prayer, we immediately think material things when we claim this verse.

But context is everything. In Luke's Gospel, these verses are summed up this way: "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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (11:13).

Holy Spirit? What's He got to do with food, clothing, financial security, health, job opportunities—all the things on my wish list?

Nothing.

That's because we have to look at the verses in context. Before inviting His followers to ask, seek, and knock, Jesus was teaching them about judging others and making sure their own lives were in good spiritual shape before trying to help others with their lives. After the verses, Jesus quotes the Golden Rule:"…do to others what you would have them do to you" and warns them against false prophets disguised as messengers from God. He then reminds them of the consequences of not building their spiritual houses on the right foundation.

The "ask," "seek," and "knock" connected to Luke's reference to the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the context in which the verse is found, tells me that the Lord is inviting His disciples to ask for wisdom, discernment, good judgment, spiritual growth, so that they can live as they ought. And Jesus responds by telling them that all they have to do is ask, and He will give them His own Spirit, Who will help them through all these challenges in life.

He is, after all, the best gift.

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