Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)
Jesus continues with an obvious statement. If my son, Tom, were to ask for some bread, of course I wouldn’t give him a stone and I would never substitute a serpent for some fish. This is pretty obvious.
The hard-hitting part comes next; Jesus assumes I am evil! He calls all of us evil. But am I really evil? I do the best for my kids and try my hardest to make sure they are ok. And yet I am evil!
Firstly, compared to God we are evil. We are imperfect and He is perfect. We make many mistakes on a daily basis, He doesn’t. But this goes further than just a comparison. It brings us to an important doctrine of the state of mankind.
The bible makes it clear that apart from God, mankind is spiritually dead.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1)
We have no interest in God until He, by His grace, awakens a desire for Him in us. This is called the doctrine of ‘total depravity’ meaning that every part of our being is affected by sin, our intellect, emotions, desires, motives, everything. It’s all corrupted by sin.
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. (Romans 7:18)
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
This is not to say that we are incapable of doing good, far from it. But even by doing good our motives can be impure and corrupt.
In the context of today’s passage, Jesus is saying that even we, who are sinful, do the best for our children. But our attempts at being good parents are nothing compared to our perfect heavenly father. As parents, we can have the best of intentions but spoil our kids, or the opposite; be too harsh with them.
Our heavenly father made us, knows us better than we know ourselves and is therefore in the best position to know what is right for us. Not just in what we need but the timing of it. God will often withhold things from us for a time, because He knows the precise moment to give us what we need. Sometimes delaying can result in us trusting Him more. After all, if He gave us everything we asked for immediately, where would the appreciation and the trust be?
He does not give in to our petty tantrums and He is not swayed by our attempts at emotional manipulation. Just as well, as the sight of a spoilt child is not an attractive thing.
Jesus has now repeated the same thing in lots of different ways and He really wants to get the message across;
We have a father who loves us, who wants to have a relationship with us and wants to bless us with spiritual blessings. He is the perfect father who we should be running to, not hiding from.
Which one do you do? If you haven’t been doing so already, open your heart to Him. Tell Him your worries and concerns. If you’ve had a bad model of a father or no father at all, allow Him to fill that gap in your life.
Let Him in!