The Golden Rule as a reflection for Asking and Seeking from God

We have already seen how our Lord wants us to pray in the Our Father:

  • Adoration; We give God the glory that belongs to him (Our Creator, the One who gave us life and redeems us and keeps us)
  • Confession; We confess that he is God, The Most Holy et al.
  • Thanksgiving; We continually thank God for all good things come from Him
  • Supplication; We make our requests to a Holy God through Christ.

The above is just some things about the prayer.  The prayer also has at the end about forgiving others.

The verses below I think are some of the most misinterpreted verses in certain churches that push wealth as important (on a pedestal).  That is a complete misfit of what the text is about. 

Let us begin by reading the text:

(Prayer and the Golden Rule)

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 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!

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:7-12 NASB

The Word commentary, William Barclay and William Tyndale (Martyr for the English Bible) give us important explanations about the tenses.

Grammatical and contextual Points

Verse 7

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

The verbs to ask to seek and to know are in the present imperatives. 

These verbs should be interpreted as keep asking; keep seeking; keep knocking. Prayer is a continual thing, and it does not stop.   I can also mention that these verbs are also in the plural.  Jesus was speaking to his disciples and others at this event on ‘the mountain’.

The verbs will receive; will find; will open are all in the future tense. 

Verse 8

For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Receives, finds and knocks in this verse are in the present tense.  It is also in the singular

Verses 9-10

Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?

Here we have everyday objects in two different categories:

  • Bread and fish are staple foods in a fishing and farming village
  • Stone and snake have negative and opposite connotations are from my point of view found in the temptation story earlier on in the Gospel

Verse 11

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!

Good and evil compared and contrasted in light of our creator and our evil nature.

Verse 12

The Golden Rule!

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:7-12 NASB

My commentary on this section

God is our heavenly Father and in Christ our Redeemer and through the work of the Holy Spirit we as disciples are given advice for the nitty gritty daily living of our lives on the backdrop of the eschaton (The End Times).  God is love and this love principle of God’s goodness ought to also drive our walk with God (verse 12).  Even though we are evil, we still have the capacity to look after those under our care (verse 11).  So too God is indeed (Most Holy and Most Good) and he encourages us to live by faith and the motivation is love.

We ought to keep praying and asking God and by the Holy Spirit; By the incarnational life of Jesus on Earth; through the Holy Scriptures by God’s grace poured into our hearts and lives.  God will indeed answer our prayers.

There are prayers that God will not answer.  Those prayers that go against what we have learned through his Trinitarian teachings as found in Holy Scripture. Prayers that:

  • Feed our selfish ego (greed and money)
  • Revenge
  • Pride
  • And so, on

In summary then verse 12;

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:7-12 NASB

Reflection

As Christians in our relationships, we ought to love each and every person and it is not always an easy thing to do.  In our prayers things can get in the way such as greed for monetary gain, pride, revenge et al.   Through prayer, reading and studying holy Scripture and spending time with others of the same mind, our hearts and minds are purified.  As each day goes on in our lives, we become more like our Master the Lord Jesus Christ; although fully God he became fully man and as the Prototype and Image of God in Him our reflection becomes continually more like our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

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William Tyndale’s comments here if you are interested

First, note of these words,* that to pray is God’s commandment, as it is to believe in God, to love God, or to love thy neighbour; and so are alms and fasting also. Neither is it possible to believe in God, to love him, or to love thy neighbour, but that prayer will spring out there-hence immediately.* For to believe in God is to be sure that all thou hast is of him, and all thou needest must come of him: which if thou do, thou canst not but continually thank him for his benefits, which thou continually, without ceasing, receivest of his hand; and thereto ever cry for help, for thou art ever in need, and canst no whence else be holpen. And thy neighbour is in such necessity also: wherefore, if thou love him, it will compel thee to pity him, and to cry to God for him continually, and to thank as well for him as thyself.

Secondarily, this heaping of so many words together, “ask,* seek, and knock,” signify that the prayer must be continual; and so doth the parable of the widow, that sued to the wicked judge: and the cause is, that we are ever in continual necessity, as I said; and all our life [is] but even a warfare and a perpetual battle;* in which we prevail as long as we pray, and be overcome as soon as we cease praying: as Israel overcame the Amalekites, as long as Moses held up his hands in prayer; and as soon as he had let down his hands for weariness,* the Amalekites prevailed and had the better. Christ warned his disciples at his last supper, to have peace in him; affirming that they should have none in the world.* The false prophets shall ever impugn the faith in Christ’s blood, and enforce to quench the true understanding of the law, and the right meaning and intent of all the works commanded by God; which fight is a fight above all fights. First, they shall be in such number, that Christ’s true disciples shall be but a small flock in respect of them. They shall have works like Christ’s; so that fasting, prayer, poverty, obedience, and chastity, shall be the names of their profession. For, as Paul saith to the Corinthians, the angels or messengers of Satan shall change themselves into angels or messengers of light and truth.* They shall come in Christ’s name, and that with signs and miracles; and have the upper hand also,* even to deceive the very elect, if it were possible. Yea, and beyond all this, if thou get the victory of the false prophets, and pluck a multitude out of their hands, there shall immediately rise of the same, and set up a new false sect against thee. And against all these Amalekites the only remedy is to lift up the hands of thy heart to God in continual prayer:* which hands if thou for weariness once let fall, thou goest to the worst immediately. Then, beside the fight and conflict of the subtle sophistry, false miracles, disguised and hypocritish works of these false prophets, cometh the dogs and wolves of their disciples, with the servants of mammon, and the swine of thine own scholars: against which all thou hast no other shield or defence but prayer. Then the sins and lusts of thine own flesh, Satan, and a thousand temptations unto evil in the world, will either drive thee to the castle and refuge of prayer, or take thee prisoner undoubtedly.

Last of all,* thy neighbour’s necessity and thine own will compel thee to cry, “Father, which art in heaven, give us our daily bread;” though thou wert as rich as king Salomon. For Christ commandeth the rich, as well as the poor, to cry to God continually for their daily bread; and if they have no such need, then is Christ a deceiver and a mocker. What need I to pray thee to give, or lend me, that is in mine own possession already? Is not the first commandment, that there is but one God, and that thou put thy whole trust in him? Which if it were written in thine heart, thou shouldest easily perceive, and though thou hadst as many thousands as David left behind him, and Salomon heaped more to them, that thou hadst no more than the poor beggar that goeth from door to door; yea, and that the beggar (if that commandment be written in his heart) is sure that he is as rich as thou.

For first, thou must knowledge that thou hast received that great treasure of the hand of God. Wherefore, when thou fetchest an halfpenny thereof, thou oughtest to give God thanks in thine heart for the gift thereof.

Thou must confess,* also, that God only hath kept it and thee that same night, and ever before; or else be an idolater, and put thy trust in some other thing than God. And thou must confess, that God only must keep it and thee, the day and night following, and so continually after; and not thine own wit or power, or the wit or power of any other creature or creatures. For if God kept it not for thee, it would be thine own destruction, and they that help thee to keep it would cut thy throat for it. There is no king in christendom so well beloved, but he hath enow of his own evil subjects (if God kept them not down with fear) that would at one hour rise upon him and slay him, to make havoc of all he hath. Who is so well beloved throughout all England, but that there be enow in the same parish, or nigh about, that would, for his good, wish him to hell if they could, and would with their hands destroy him, if God kept him not, and did1 cast fear on the other?

Now, then, if God must ever keep it for thee, and thou must daily receive it of his hand (as a poor man doth receive his alms of another man), thou art in no more surety of thy daily bread, no, though thou were a cardinal, than the poorest is. Wherefore, howsoever rich thou be, yet must thou ever cry to God for thy daily bread. So now it is a commandment to pray, and that continually; short, thick, and oft, as the psalms be, and all the prayers of the bible.

Finally,* the third is, that we be commanded to pray with faith and trust; and that we believe in the Lord our God, and doubt not in his promises, unto which Christ induceth us with an apt similitude, saying, “If ye being evil can give good things unto your children, how much more shall God fulfil his promises of mercy unto his children, if they cry unto him!” He is better and more merciful than all men. Wherefore, seeing God commandeth thee to pray, and forasmuch as thou hast so great necessity so to do, and because he is merciful, and hath promised and is true, and cannot deny his own words; therefore pray; and when thou prayest, look not on thine unworthiness, but on his commandment, mercy, and goodness, and on his truth and faithfulness, and believe stedfastly in him. Moreover, whatsoever thou hast done, yet if thou repent and will amend, he promiseth that he will not think on thy sins.* And though he defer thee, think it not long, nor faint not in thy faith, or be slack in thy prayer: for he will surely come and give thee more than thou desirest, though he defer for thy profit, or change thy request into a better thing.

  All things, therefore, whatsoever ye would men should do to you, so do ye to them. This is, verily, the law and the prophets.

This is a short sermon, that no man need complain that he cannot,* for the length, bear it away. It is so nigh thee, that thou needest not to send over sea for it. It is with thee, that thou needest not to be importune upon master doctor, saying, ‘Sir, I pray you, what say ye to this case and to that; and is not this lawful, and may I not so do, and so, well enough?’ Ask thine own conscience, what thou mayest or oughtest to do. Wouldest thou men did so with thee? then do it. Wouldest thou not be so dealt with? then do it not. Thou wouldest not that men should do thee wrong and oppress thee: thou wouldest not that men should do thee shame and rebuke, lie on thee, kill thee, hire thine house from thee, or tice thy servant away, or take against thy will aught that is thine.* Thou wouldest not that men should sell thee false ware, when thou puttest them in trust to make it ready, or lay it out for thee; nor thou wouldest not that men should deceive thee with great oaths, swearing that to be good which indeed is very naught: thou wouldest not, also, that men should sell thee ware that is naught and too dear, to undo thee. Do no such things, then, to thy neighbour. But as loth as thou wouldest be to buy false ware, or too dear, for undoing thyself, so loth be thou to sell false ware, or too dear, for undoing thy neighbour. And in all thy needs how glad thou wouldest be to be holpen, so glad be to help thy neighbour. And so, in all cases, examine thy conscience, and ask her what is to be done, in all doubts between thy neighbour and thee; and she will teach thee, except thou be more filthy than a swine, and altogether beastly.

He saith here,* “This is the law and the prophets.” And he saith,* “Thou shalt love thy Lord God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind:” and, as Mark addeth, “with all thy might,* and thy neighbour as thyself. In these two commandments hangeth the whole law and the prophets.” And Paul (Rom. 13 and Gal. 5) saith, that “love is the fulfilling of the law.” And it is written, that “Christ is” the fulfilling or “end of the law.” To make all these agree, this thou must understand; that to love God purely is the final and uttermost end of all the law and the prophets.* To love thy neighbour is the end of all laws that is between man and man; as are, kill not, steal not, bear no false witness, commit none adultery, covet not thy neighbour’s wife, his house, ox, ass, maid, man-servant, nor aught that is his, &c. Christ is the fulfilling of the law for us, where we be imperfect; and when we break and repent, his fulfilling is imputed unto us. And this text, “This is the law and the prophets,” mayest thou understand as when Paul saith, “Love is the fulfilling of the law:” that is, to do as thou wouldest be done to, is all the law that is between thee and thy neighbour; and that according to the true understanding and interpreting of all true prophets.

William Tyndale, Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures, Together with the Practice of Prelates, ed. Henry Walter, vol. 1, The Works of William Tyndale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1849), 115–120. Taken from Logos Bible Software

The picture I used this Week for the blog was taken from: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/39/Washington_Allston_-Elijah_in_the_DesertGoogle_Art_Project.jpg/640px-Washington_AllstonElijah_in_the_Desert-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

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