“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 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 good gifts to those who ask him!”
My wife complains “I’m hard to buy gifts for.” Inevitably, she asks for hints or ideas on what she can get me. I seldom can think of anything, so I wing it to stop the interrogation. However, despite my scant input, she has always found a way to give me the perfect gift. How? She knows me better than anybody.
So it is with our heavenly Father. He knows us better than anyone. God is the supreme gift giver.
Jesus used the analogy of parents giving to their children to make His point. Mothers and fathers strive to grant their children’s reasonable requests whenever they can. We also occasionally give in to some unreasonable begging, but that’s a discussion for another time.
The requests mentioned by Jesus were for bread and fish, the two basic staples of the Galilean diet. Surely no parent would respond by giving a stone or a snake.
I want you to picture yourself in the crowd listening to Jesus’ message that day. How would you have responded to the Lord’s accusation, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children…”
Jesus called His audience “evil.” Not just the teachers of the law or the Pharisees, but all of them. And if you had been standing there, His accusation would have been aimed at you.
Can you imagine the news headlines if Jesus had spoken those words today? Self-proclaimed Holy Man Calls All People Evil; Senate Calls for Investigation; Universities Provide Safe Zones for Comforting Emotionally Wounded Students.
Actually, times really haven’t changed all that much. Jesus’ message and claims about Himself ultimately led to His execution.
If you think of yourself as good, and most of us do, having someone call you “evil” is not what you want to hear. In Mark 10:18, Jesus said, “No one is good—except God alone.” Paul put it this way: “There is no one righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10) By the way, Paul was quoting Psalm 14:1, a scripture passage the religious leaders would have known quite well. But their piety kept them from seeing the truth about themselves.
Before anyone can be saved and enter into a right relationship with God, they must come to grips with their depravity. That message was intended to sting; to produce guilt, confession of sins, and repentance.
I have observed the church abandoning the most basic tenant of the gospel: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) We are sinners by nature and incapable of saving ourselves. To be sure that’s not God’s only message. But we are doing a disservice to the cause of Christ if we fail to declare the whole truth.
What makes us patriotic? Is it the flag or marching bands? Is it hot dogs, barbecue, and fireworks on the 4th of July? All of that is nice and helps us celebrate our pride in country. But at the core of our patriotism is the realization of the price paid for our freedom, and the enormous love and commitment of our forefathers who made our great nation possible.
The heart of our Christian faith is not in the pomp and revelry. It’s not in the talents of a praise group or the stirring performance of a choir. And it’s not in the feel-good message of an eloquent speaker. The heart of our faith is in the realization of the Lord’s superior gift, that when we were yet sinners God sent His Son — who lived, died, was buried, and on the third day rose from the grave. He ascended into heaven and now is seated at the right hand of God making intercession on our behalf. And He’s coming back to judge the living and the dead, and to take His followers home to be with Him in His heaven forever.
And so, in response to Jesus statement, “how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him,” I join with the Apostle Paul in saying, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (1 Corinthians 9:15)
For more on this topic, check out this article: Spiritual Gifts for Dummies
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.