The Disciple’s Wisdom For Duty (Matthew 7:7-12) by Bro. John Lao

We live in a world where almost everything comes with a fee. Platform fees, miscellaneous fees, service fees and at times even some of the businesses would ask for some fees kahit sa mga simpleng documentations or anything that you would require as their customers. But in the midst of everything that is kumbaga parang unfavourable with some of the customers and specially for the Filipinos, meron silang positive mindsets. And they have a way of seeing through all of the negative things and turning it or finding out something that is quite positive. And if you would approach a Filipino person, sasabihin nila, well at least libre pa rin ang mangarap at libre pa rin ang magtanong. And so in our passage today, Jesus brings encouragement to the needy disciples. Upon hearing the great demands from this Sermon on the Mount, the Lord then has given them an answer providing them, the disciples wisdom for duty. Let us all turn to Matthew chapter 7. We are in the almost concluding portion of the Sermon on the Mount. And for this afternoon, we will be looking at verses 7 to 12. Matthew chapter 7 verses 7 to 12. I’ll be reading from the English Standard Version. So pay attention now. This is once again the very words of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 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! “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Let us all pray. Our great and Heavenly Father, oh gracious God, we approach You recognising of our neediness and of our need of Christ. Oh Lord God, we thank You for this wonderful privilege that You have made Your words available to us for our sanctification and for the salvation of those who knew oh Lord that they are beggarly in terms of their spiritual condition before You. And so Lord we pray that You would use Your words, encourage us, cause us to see this wonderful privilege that we have in Christ to approach You constantly and regularly. As Your children and as our heavenly Father in Jesus’ Name we pray, amen.

Our great God and King is about to wrap up His sermon that He’s giving to His disciples in which He talked about how life in the kingdom of God looks like and what it means to live as Christians. The sermon has shown the disciples how the principles of the kingdom are quite different from the culture around them. That if they would look to the world, it is not something that they would find very similar in terms of the principle that was given to them by Christ. And now it really crushes the the pride and the self-righteousness of the self-made religion of the religious leaders of their day. That if they measure up their understanding of righteousness, it doesn’t measure up on the law that was given to them and clarified by our Lord Jesus. And in chapter 5, Christ taught the true meaning of the law and what it demanded from His disciples and contrary to what they are teaching, who reduced it into mere external commands, the law required obedience from the heart and that sin is caught not in the act itself, not on the performance itself, but upon the heart. And in chapter 6, He warns them of hypocrisy, to be cautious in practicing their righteousness in order to make a performance or to put on a show, since it is intended for the worship of God, the adoration of God, they shouldn’t be attracting the attention to themselves. And He also reminds them not to be anxious. The Father cares for you, seek first His kingdom, His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. And from there, He transitions to chapter 7 to begin dealing with their relationship with others and with their neighbours. And last week, we talked about and ask the question to judge or not to judge. And what we got from that sermon is the answer yes and no. And in this section Christ enters once again on the discussion of prayer. And at the first glance, we may think that the Lord is making another exit or digression from His original topic as He did in chapter 6 when He talked about in an extended length the pattern for prayer for the disciples. And many commentators have actually proposed an approach as to how we could understand verses 7 12 of chapter seven. And one of which they say is that it is a connection of saying put together in two chapters. But we would argue that there is an organic unity. There is a flow upon the message of Christ and to rightly understand the commands of Christ to ask, seek and not before the Father and to persistently pray, we should see it in the light of the context. What we will see here is that Christ is just about to conclude the subject on judging others. At hindi pa Siya umaalis dito. He is still here as you’ve seen in verses one to six, the Lord does not prohibit all kinds of judgment. What He forbids is the sinful, condemning and hypocritical judgment. And the truth is, Christ Himself has been judging the Hypocrites all along in The Sermon on the Mount. He says that they are hypocrites. They are putting on a show, they want to be seen by men. But as for us, the aim is to love by extending a sincere help only when we’ve done a careful consideration of ourselves and doing appropriate action to deal with our own sin first, and then rightly, righteously and helpfully, judging others, because at the end of the day, we ought to be able to judge one another rightly. And if we don’t judge each other, then if we remain in our sins, mas makakasama sa atin iyon. And in this instruction, the Lord is not only showing that how they ought to judge, but it is also denouncing the judgmental attitudes of again, the religious leaders. They look down upon the the people who don’t measure up to to their religious standards. and to these people, Christ presents a warning that with the judgment, you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. In other words you will be scrutinised in the same way. But on the other hand we are called to judge by exercising discernment as well. We ought not to be gullible, or basta hayaan na lang at don’t exercise our ability to judge. We ought to be wise as serpents, but still to be innocent as doves. Having the wisdom when to withhold giving the gospel, especially when you know that the person is actively opposing and even intending to cause harm upon the messenger. And having heard this teaching about judging. If we will be honest, we should be ready to admit that this is a high standard. No one would be able to to judge wisely. No one is able to.. no one is qualified to become a rightful judge upon our brothers and even more so upon other people. We are incapable judges. We are incapable of also fulfilling the law of God. It is impossible left alone ourselves. Kailangan natin ng kalakasan ng Panginoon. We need the wisdom of God, we need the grace of God and this is where Christ provides a much needed encouragement to His disciples. And the same encouragement is provided to us by our Lord as we fulfill the high calling in our kingdom duties. And this is where I want us to take the message this morning. Persistently praying disciples are given grace for Kingdom duties. Persistently Praying Disciples Are Given Grace For Kingdom Duties. And in this message we will be looking at two things: what was promised by the Lord Jesus Christ, what is our ever sufficient resource. Here’s the first point: Grace Promised. And what is the sum and the substance of our relationship with others? That is going to be the second point, The Golden Principle.

And so let’s look at the first point Grace Promised. Our obligation to render right judgment is impossible as we’ve mentioned, apart from divine wisdom. We are fallible, we are not able to effectively discern, we need help! And it is the answer that the Lord gives in verse 7. He says ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. The answer that Jesus gives for us in order to rightly judge, is to pray. And not just to pray in a single act na parang mag-pray ka lang ang that’s it. Literally, in the original language it says keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. Jesus is showing the kind of attitude and the perseverance we ought to have in our approach with God. And that there is a kind of intensity, commitment and a passion to it. We see it as a responsibility that is serious with urgency. Kumbaga hindi ito passive. It involves lifting up our prayers to God as well as lifting up our bodies in action. We keep on coming to God asking humbly, sincerely for what we need, we seek diligently and working towards finding what needs to be found, and like a door that is shut it is one that knocks until someone opens up. Father, I need your wisdom, I need your grace, I need your strength. This is something beyond my capability. In other words, it marks, it is marked by persistence and for such disciples who would persistently pray Jesus gives a word of assurance in verse 8, for everyone who asks receives, and to the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be open. Christ is giving absolute assurance, complete certainty that you can rest assure that God will respond to your persistent prayer. Jesus is taking away every ounce of doubt that could linger in the minds of his disciples whether or not God would give that strength and wisdom. And if that wasn’t enough, He also guarantees that the Father will answer their prayers according to His holy and good character. In verses 9 to 11, He argues from a standpoint of an Earthly father though evil and sinful, dahil sila’y makasalanan, still has that innate desire to be able to do good to his children. And in verse 11 says how much more with your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him. Is it a good thing for us to be able to judge rightly? Absolutely! That is God’s will as we have learned. Is it the will of God for us to to love Him, to love our neighbour as ourselves and to obey His commandments? Definitely!

God would do no wrong against His children. As a perfect Father, He wouldn’t seek the harm of His children. He would not trick nor deceive them. As James chapter 1 verse 17, every good gift and every perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of light in whom, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Disciples are assured of grace when they persistently approach and ask from their loving Father. It is promised by no other than the Son of God Himself. He desires that we would grow in grace, He wills and promises to sanctify and make holy His people by working in us through His Spirit. And those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will indeed be satisfied as He has said in chapter 5 verse 6. He has given the divine pledge coming from His very lips and assured us with great certainty that the Father will answer and give what is good and we can be sure of this promise because He is faithful, He won’t lie to us, He does not change and He’s not bound by any human limitations.

Our parents do get tired. Lahat ng mga magulang dito definitely alam po natin ang experience. When we come home from work, at times all we want to do is to sit down at the couch and rest. And if our children would keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking at the door, we make we may become irritated. Pwede tayong magalit sa kanila, pwede bang mamaya na lang? May mga ganun tayong reaction. But our God and Father doesn’t grow weary. As His children comes to Him, He doesn’t slumber anytime. He encourages us to come to Him, He welcomes us, He encourages us through the words of Christ to persevere in our prayers before Him because He welcomes us and He listens. God graciously grants wisdom to His disciples who persevere in their prayers in order that they may fulfill the commands, the charges, the mandates that we have as Kingdom citizens. But just like any other clear teachings in the scripture, this passage has been subject into a lot of abuse. Others took this passage to mean that Christ has promised that if you would ask, to seek, and knock for anything that you want, God will be compelled to give you what you exactly want. And if you do not receive what you ask, seek, knock and pray for, may prublema, yung faith mo, kulang. And such teaching is a great distortion of a beautiful passage that tells us of the goodness and the love, the generosity the benevolence of God, His kindness and goodness and grace upon His people and that He makes Himself available in our weakness in our recognition of the demands of the law and give us His grace as we call upon Him, assuring us that in His omniscience, alam Niya ang ating pangangailangan, dinig Niya tayo and that is faithfulness to His children, He responds in the best of any earthly Father’s willingness to provide good for their children. It nowhere matches the goodness of the Father to those who asks of Him provided that you are His child. We can only become a child of God if we come to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. True believers are the one who have been made alive from being dead in sin. They have been given a new nature, new desires, new affections for God. Imperfect as it were, but they loved the Lord and when they look at his law, they would echo with the songs and say oh how I love your law! They’re the ones who recognises their spiritual bankruptcy, mourns over their sins who hunger and thirst for righteousness. In other words, they know their need of a Saviour. They know their constant need of His grace and presence so that they would continue to live out the life that they are called according to the gospel. But if you are and if what I am describing to you in a moment, if you are not a child of His, you do not have this one wonderful privilege, much worse you are God’s enemy. You remain spiritually dead in your sin and what you have to do right now, recognising your sins before God, recognising that you have broken every law that is in the Commandments, you need to repent of your sins. Turn away, talikuran ang inyong kasalanan and place your faith in the Saviour who has provided salvation to sinners. So turn to Him. If you haven’t given your lives to Him, come to Him. Throw yourself in His mercies. But for you brother, sister, knowing that you are you are His child, you have a wonderful privilege to come before your Father. He couldn’t get too busy to hear from you. It is intimate knowledge of you and is love for you in Christ. He is ready to give what is good for you when you ask. And so my first Challenge: Persevere In Your Prayers Brethren Knowing That Your Father In Heaven Listens.

We are easily compelled to pray for other things whenever someone is sick in the family, when you have financial troubles, if you’re looking into some job opportunities na uy, okay ito, magandang opportunity ito; perhaps a promotion, and probably someone you’d like to pursue for marriage. Well these are all good things and we’re not saying that you shouldn’t be praying for these things, but too often, there are barely any prayers for our righteousness and our sanctification.

John Calvin even comments that Christ Himself gives the stress to this prayer for us to ask, seek and knock because we can be slothful in this particular duty…pwede tayong tamarin. And you feel that prayer is counterproductive. I would rather do something, I would rather act upon what I would want to happen rather than pray. And so my question to you brother, sister: how is your prayer life? Or probably to begin with, do you have one? Too often the reason why there’s not much praying going on is because we fail to see our need of grace. We fail to see of our need of grace because lightly, you have lowered down the standards in your mind. We’ve lowered down the standards because we’re too proud to admit that looking upon the holy law of God, we fall short of it. And our hearts are too proud! We are filled with pride to really accept that we have sinned, that we continually sin against God. And if that is the case, surrender now! Isuko niyo na yan. Recognise your need of His grace.. run to Christ who has it exceedingly. He has abundant grace. John chapter 1 said in whom we have received grace upon grace. And brethren, this word of assurance from our Lord that the Father delights in responding to the prayers of His children, come humbly to God regularly. Ask of Him, seek Him diligently, search His word not continually and persistently pray, knowing that He would open the door for us.

And so when was the last time we prayed about being free from sinful thoughts, from a struggle with sin, to have a heart that is forgiving and gracious, that we would have an ever increasing desire to study the scripture, to look into careful and reliable authors and praying that the Holy Spirit would guide us through our studies so that we may be sanctified and grow in grace. And if you happen to do so and you are discouraged because it seems like God is not answering my prayers naman! Let me tell you, it’s not because you lack faith, hindi totoo iyon. Take Christ at His word and the guarantee that He has given. It could be that what is good for you is for you to wait for Him. It could be that what is good for you is not what you are exactly asking for. And at the end of the day, rest assured that as a loving Father towards His children, He does and He gives what is good for us. Countless stories in the past, and if you would just talk to your brethren what God has done in the past. Hindi Niya sinagot yung prayer ko, but praise God He protected me from sin, He protected me from falling into something na ikasasama ko. You’ve heard those stories in the past. And trust the Father in His wisdom for His thoughts are higher than ours.

Si Joseph Scriven wrote a hymn In 1855 that is entitled What A Friend We Have In Jesus. It provides encouragement in the lyrics that follows: “Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share, Jesus knows our every weakness take it to the Lord in prayer.” We have much encouragement, grace is promise to us from the very lips of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us all come to Him as our heavenly Father always asking, keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking, before His very presence.

And what is the golden principle that He has given us? And this is what we’re going to look at at the second point The Golden Principle. Christ signals a conclusion in verse 12. At sinabi Niya rito, So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them for this is the law and the prophets. You know thinkers during and before Jesus time, how somehow come up with their own versions of the golden rule. There is a popular Rabbi during that time, ang pangalan niya ay si Rabbi Hillel. And there was a gentile who challenged him and told him please summarise for me the law while I’m standing up with my one foot. So ang sinabi ni Rabbi Hillel, what is hateful to you, do not do to anyone else everything else is commentary. If you would go to somewhere in Asia, there’s a man by the name of Confucius who also had this version of The Golden Rule. Do not do unto others what you’d would not want others to do unto you. And you would see the common feature of what they’re teaching. That it is taking off from a negative perspective. And come to think of it, if you essentially follow those Commandments, pwedeng wala ka na lang gawin. And you would essentially followed that Golden Rule. It doesn’t seek love, and in fact it seeks self-preservation. The reason why you don’t want to do things, to do the bad things to others is because you are protecting yourself. You are seeking your own preservation. But with the teaching of Jesus, He did not just put the teaching into a positive light, but also told us this is exactly it, the law and the prophets. If you would want to know the whole duty of a person towards man, this is it—God’s law is not simply presented to us as a set of rules and regulation. It has an intention and the intention is to promote good towards others and prevent what could cause harm. It goes both ways. There’s a positive and there is a negative. And the goal is to be able to seek the welfare and not the harm of others. The law teaches that to seek our neighbours’ good and to prohibit us from harming them. The law teaches us to seek our neighbours’ good and prohibit us from harming them.

In our scripture reading earlier, Matthew chapter 22 verses 34 to 40. Jesus was questioned by a lawyer in order to test Him. That is the intention of this lawyer. And the question is which is the greatest commandment in the law? Christ masterfully answered the question and said you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first Commandment. That is our responsibility to love God. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two Commandments, depend all the law and the prophets. If you want to do good toward your neighbour, consider what would be pleasing, what would be beneficial, what would be lawfully good to you first, and do that to others. A careful consideration is quite important to know what would be good for us to do to others. In other words you shall love your neighbour as yourself. To do to others what you want others to do unto you is the active version of this commandment. This command doesn’t just stand as a social aspiration, or parang iniiwan lang natin siya as a statement for us to admire. Rather, it is the disciples’ daily duty. The golden principle is an action. It is active, it pursues and it sees the welfare of the one who receives it. The truth is a lot of the conflicts that have happened and it’s continually happening today, is because they failed to seek the neighbours good. The scale varies from national wars to the level of two children fighting because of their toys. And JC Ryle said, he comments on this passage: “If everyone would accept this rule, what a lot of silly quarrels would be stopped!” Kung ia-apply lang natin ito, and iu-upold lang natin ang golden rule, maraming mga away na pwede nang maghinto. And by embracing this rule out of obedience to God, we won’t give in to our sinful, motivated judgment. Instead we would judge with intention to help a brother or another person. We won’t murder by being angry, but give honour as a fellow image bearer of God. We will keep our words, we would be trustworthy, and we will be doing what is right and reasonable for the sake of others. And having good consideration of the circumstances, what they are going through, and seek what is going to be good for their benefit. And in all these, it is a call for us to be just and to be fair towards all men, the way you want to be treated ought to be the way you treat others even if it means you won’t get reciprocated. It can be costly. Pag inapply natin ito, it can be something na hindi natin mare-receive in return. We may not be able to receive the same love that we might be expecting to others. But here’s the thing brothers and sisters, the Father loves us and cares for us. God out of His great love for us which He demonstrated by sending His only begotten son for our sakes, who was born under the law that we might receive adoption as sons, he came and sought us so that He could do us good by saving us, redeeming us from all of our sins, forgiving us from all of our transgressions and welcomes us as adopted children of His.

And so if you’re not in Christ, I call upon you to turn away from your sins. That can be the only way that you can be saved and be cleansed from all of your sins. And by being motivated by the goodness of our Father dear brethren, seek the good of your neighbour in everything. Seek the good of your neighbour in everything. Understanding this is our whole duty in relation to other people both believers and unbelievers, both members and outsiders. But most of the time we’re more concerned about ourselves to the point that it is already inordinate. In his book Knowing Sin, si Mark Jones made a distinction of the topic on self- love. At meron siyang binigay na tatlong categories doon. Number one, there is a natural self-love which means that you take care of yourself, you feed yourself,. You basically do the regular hygiene and all. But there is this second type of self- love which is simple self-love which means that because of your sin, you have an inordinate desire to feed your passion and lust. But the third category is the divine self-love which focuses, which gleans upon the love and the promises that is contained in the gospel, enjoyed by His saints. And with this kind of love, God has given us in Christ. We have a source, immeasurable source of of this love that comes from the Father so that we might be able to have the strength to be able to do good and love others as well. How would this impact the way you treat others? How about your brethren for the ones who are suffering, who are suffering loss, your family members; how would this differentiate the way you treat them now? Your wife, your husband and your children and brethren though we may fail in this particular responsibility. Recognise that we can always look to the perfect love of God demonstrated to us in Christ. Secure the strength in the gospel. Find your strength in the gospel, and regularly reflect upon the blessings given us in Christ Jesus that he has set forth so clearly in His word.

So brethren, God is faithful both in His redemptive grace in Christ. And in assuring us with His ever-present help as we live as citizens of his kingdom.

Let us all pray. Our mighty Father in heaven, oh great God, we are indeed needy of Your grace. May we be encouraged to continually ask, seek and knock, knowing that You would respond and give good gifts to your children. As we pray as well that it would be our great encouragement to remember that it is from the very lips of Jesus that we have this assurance. May You grant us help oh Lord and may You be gracious to provide the strength that we need in order to live as your Kingdom citizens. In Jesus’ Name we pray, amen.

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