A few years ago I was encouraged to ask someone for a favor — “Ask him…I really think he’d be willing to help you.” I was uncertain. The favor I was asking was not insignificant and while this man was well-known to my friend, I did not know him at all. Why would he take the time and energy to help me?
So I introduced myself to him one day, and asked if I could take him to lunch. He agreed. And over our meal, I made my request. I thought for certain that he would immediately decline. He didn’t. “That sounds interesting…let me look at my schedule and pray about it. I’ll call you soon and let you know.” And within a week he called back and agreed to help me. I was delightedly surprised. He helped me!
That scenario is not uncommon. We often find ourselves asking people for favors of grace that we will be unable to repay with similar acts of grace. That sometimes leads to us being reluctant askers. We don’t want to ask because we presuppose a denial will be the response (maybe because we would be disinclined to extend grace to others?). And this is our pattern not only in how we ask friends and family for help, but also how we ask God for help. At times, we are reticent to ask our Father for His ministry to us because we believe He will be reticent to help.
But hear the words of Jesus in Matthew 7: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (v. 11).
God is not a reluctant Giver.
In fact, God is a wiling, gracious, and joyous Giver!
There is an obvious and striking contrast in this verse: we give gifts of grace to others and we are inherently evil; God is in heaven and by that position is inherently and infinitely good and righteous, so He cannot give us anything ungracious or evil. In fact, the contrast makes us realize that if we are able to give something good to others, God will give infinitely more gracious gifts.
But this clause is also intended to make us realize that God cannot give anything but good gifts to His children. He can never do evil to His children. Everything He gives His children is good. That doesn’t mean that the gifts aren’t painful. It doesn’t mean that the gifts may not at times be hard and severe. But the gifts will always be good. What you have — everything you have — is from God and it is good, designed to conform you to His Son (Rom. 8:28-29).
Notice that there are also two conditions to God’s giving:
- God doesn’t give good gifts to everyone. To receive good from God, you must be His child. God does not universally give good things to all people. Some (many) will be the recipients of His wrath and anger because of their rejection of Him and His Son. (This reality should be a stimulant to evangelistic passions.) In fact, if you are not His child, to expect anything good from Him is folly.
- You must also ask. Like a gracious earthly father, our heavenly Father is often disposed to give us gracious gifts without our asking. But He also will at times wait for our asking before He gives, which is why Jesus’ half-brother James writes, “You do not have because you do not ask” (Js. 4:2). If we would only ask, He would lavish us with His grace.
God is not a reluctant Giver. If you are His child, ask for what you need.