Because of the depth of what Jesus taught on the issue of my relationship to people, I am going to look at additional dimensions of this most important subject.
I don’t know about you, but I am not doing to well on this issue. It is my desire that you and I will become more loving and loveable Christians because this is the greatest argument in favour of Christianity
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”—Matthew 7:7.
To leave no chance for unbelief, misunderstanding, or misinterpretation of His words, the Lord repeats the thrice-given promise. He longs to have those who would seek after God believe in Him who is able to do all things. Therefore, He adds,
The Lord specifies no conditions except that you hunger for His mercy, desire His counsel, and long for His love. “Ask.”
The asking, makes it manifest that you realize your necessity; and if you ask in faith you will receive. The Lord has pledged His word, and it cannot fail. If you come with true contrition, you need not feel that you are presumptuous in asking for what the Lord has promised.
When you ask for the blessings you need, that you may perfect a character after Christ’s likeness, the Lord assures you that you are asking according to a promise that will be verified. That you feel and know you are a sinner is sufficient ground for asking for His mercy and compassion.
The condition upon which you may come to God is not that you shall be holy, but that you desire Him to cleanse you from all sin and purify you from all iniquity. The argument that we may plead now and ever is our great need, our utterly helpless state, that makes Him and His redeeming power a necessity.
“Seek.” Desire not merely His blessing, but Himself. “Now acquaint yourself with Him, and be at peace; Thereby good will come to you. Job 22:21.
God is seeking you, and the very desire you feel to come to Him is but the drawing of His Spirit. Yield to that drawing. Christ is pleading the cause of the tempted, the erring, and the faithless. He is seeking to lift them into companionship with Himself. “If you seek Him, He will be found by you.” 1 Chronicles 28:9.
“Knock.” We come to God by special invitation, and He waits to welcome us to His audience chamber. The first disciples who followed Jesus were not satisfied with a hurried conversation with Him by the way; they said, “Rabbi …where are You staying?” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day John 1:38, 39.
So we may be admitted into closest intimacy and communion with God. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1.
Let those who desire the blessing of God knock and wait at the door of mercy with firm assurance, saying, For You, O Lord, has said, “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
Jesus looked upon those who were assembled to hear His words, and earnestly desired that the great multitude might appreciate the mercy and loving-kindness of God.
As an illustration of their need, and of God’s willingness to give, He presents before them a hungry child asking his earthly parent for bread. “What man is there of you,” He said, “whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?”
He appeals to the tender, natural affection of a parent for his child and then says, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?”
No man with a father’s heart would turn from his son who is hungry and is asking for bread. Would they think him capable of trifling with his child, of tantalizing him by raising his expectations only to disappoint him?
Would he promise to give him good and nourishing food, and then give him a stone? And should anyone dishonour God by imagining that He would not respond to the appeals of His children?
If ye, then, being human and evil, “know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” Luke 11:13. The Holy Spirit, the representative of Himself, is the greatest of all gifts. All “good things” are comprised in this.
The Creator Himself can give us nothing greater, nothing better. When we beseech the Lord to pity us in our distress, and to guide us by His Holy Spirit, He will never turn away our prayer. It is possible even for a parent to turn away from his hungry child, but God can never reject the cry of the needy and longing heart.
With what wonderful tenderness He has described His love! To those who in days of darkness feel that God is unmindful of them, this is the message from the Father’s heart:
Isaiah 49:14 But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.”
Isaiah 49:15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
Isaiah 49:16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.
Every promise in the word of God furnishes us with subject matter for prayer, presenting the pledged word of God as our assurance. Whatever spiritual blessing we need, it is our privilege to claim through Jesus.
We may tell the Lord, with the simplicity of a child, exactly what we need. We may state to Him our temporal matters, asking Him for bread and raiment as well as for the bread of life and the robe of Christ’s righteousness.
Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things, and you are invited to ask Him concerning them. It is through the name of Jesus that every favour is received. God will honour that name, and will supply your necessities from the riches of His liberality.
But do not forget that in coming to God as a father you acknowledge your relation to Him as a child. You not only trust His goodness, but in all things yield to His will, knowing that His love is changeless. You give yourself to do His work. It was to those whom He had bidden to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness that Jesus gave the promise, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” John 16:24.
The gifts of Him who has all power in heaven and earth are in store for the children of God. Gifts so precious that they come to us through the costly sacrifice of the Redeemer’s blood; gifts that will satisfy the deepest craving of the heart, gifts lasting as eternity, will be received and enjoyed by all who will come to God as little children.
Take God’s promises as your own, plead them before Him as His own words, and you will receive fullness of joy.
Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
On the assurance of the love of God toward us, Jesus enjoins love to one another, in one comprehensive principle covering all the relations of human fellowship.
The Jews had been concerned about what they should receive; the burden of their anxiety was to secure what they thought their due of power and respect and service. But Christ teaches that our anxiety should not be, How much are we to receive? but, How much can we give?
The standard of our obligation to others is found in what we ourselves would regard as their obligation to us.
In your association with others, put yourself in their place. Enter their feelings, their difficulties, their disappointments, their joys, and their sorrows. Identify yourself with them, and then do to them as, were you to exchange places with them, you would wish them to deal with you.
This is the true rule of honesty. It is another expression of the law. “You shall love your neighbour as youself.” Matthew 22:39. And it is the substance of the teaching of the prophets. It is a principle of heaven, and will be developed in all who are fitted for its holy companionship.
The golden rule is the principle of true courtesy, and its truest illustration is seen in the life and character of Jesus. Oh, what rays of softness and beauty shone forth in the daily life of our Saviour! What sweetness flowed from His very presence! The same spirit will be revealed in His children. Those with whom Christ dwells will be surrounded with a divine atmosphere. Their white robes of purity will be fragrant with perfume from the garden of the Lord. Their faces will reflect light from His, brightening the path for stumbling and weary feet.
No man who has the true ideal of what constitutes a perfect character will fail to manifest the sympathy and tenderness of Christ. The influence of grace is to soften the heart, to refine and purify the feelings, giving a heaven-born delicacy and sense of propriety.
But there is a yet deeper significance to the golden rule. Everyone who has been made a steward of the manifold grace of God is called upon to impart to souls in ignorance and darkness, even as, were he in their place, he would desire them to impart to him.
The apostle Paul said, “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.” Romans 1:14. By all that you have known of the love of God, by all that you have received of the rich gifts of His grace above the most ignorant and degraded soul upon the earth are you in debt to that soul to impart these gifts unto him.
So also, with the gifts and blessings of this life: whatever you may possess above your fellows places you in debt, to that degree, to all who are less favoured. Have we wealth, or even the comforts of life, then we are under the most solemn obligation to care for the suffering sick, the widow, and the fatherless exactly as we would desire them to care for us were our condition and theirs to be reversed.
The golden rule teaches, by implication, the same truth which is taught elsewhere in the Sermon on the Mount, that “with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” That which we do to others, whether it be good or evil, will surely react upon ourselves, in blessing or in cursing.
Whatever we give, we shall receive again. The earthly blessings which we impart to others may be, and often are, repaid in kind. What we give does, in time of need, often come back to us in fourfold
But, besides this, all gifts are repaid, even in this life, in the fuller inflowing of His love, which is the sum of all heaven’s glory and its treasure. And evil imparted also returns.
Everyone who has been free to condemn or discourage, will in his own experience be brought over the ground where he has caused others to pass; he will feel what they have suffered because of his want of sympathy and tenderness.
It is the love of God toward us that has decreed this. He would lead us to abhor our own hardness of heart and to open our hearts to let Jesus abide in them. And thus, out of evil, good is brought, and what appeared a curse becomes a blessing.
The standard of the golden rule is the true standard of Christianity; anything short of it is a deception. A religion that leads men to place a low estimate upon human beings, whom Christ has esteemed of such value as to give Himself for them; a religion that would lead us to be careless of human needs, sufferings, or rights, is a spurious religion.
In belittling, slighting the claims of the poor, the suffering, and the sinful, we are proving ourselves traitors to Christ.
It is because men take upon themselves the name of Christ, while in life they deny His character, that Christianity has so little power in the world. The name of the Lord is blasphemed because of these things.
Of the apostolic church, in those bright days when the glory of the risen Christ shone upon them, it is written that no man said, “that nothing, aught of the things which he possessed was his own.” “Neither was there any among them that lacked.”
“And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 4:32, 34, 33; 2:46, 47.
Search heaven and earth, and there is no truth revealed more powerful than that which is made manifest in works of mercy to those who need our sympathy and aid. This is the truth as it is in Jesus. When those who profess the name of Christ shall practice the principles of the golden rule, the same power will attend the gospel as in apostolic times.
Illustration of adultery. Instead of making pain your lifelong companion, think of the worse situation of your partner. He or she is stigmatized for life and their regrets could be lifelong. My we transfer our care from ourselves to their pain.