Ask, Seek, Knock
Ask, Seek, Knock
Much of the following is an excerpt from my coming book on the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 7:1-12 "Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."
The reason that our Lord teaches on not judging at this point of His Sermon is that He has just explained the extraordinary character and quality of the Christian disciple in chapter 5 and in chapter 6 He revealed the inner, hidden, single-hearted righteousness of the disciple that shines forth the person of Christ to the world. By virtue of these astounding truths, the disciple finds himself to be holy, set apart unto the Lord, and therefore separated from the system of the world. He adheres only to the Lord and to a life that is beyond dreams, eternal, righteous, and unfortunately, rare. It would be easy to see how these truths, somewhat understood amongst a group of Christians, might lead them to adopt a superior attitude in reference to the unbelievers in the world and justify passing a righteous judgment upon them (at least they would erroneously imagine it was righteous). They might imagine that such a separating judgment from the world would draw them closer to Christ, when in fact, it would only lead them far away from Christ, and what they also would not expect is that the judgment they levied upon another will fall right on their own necks.
Christians have been judging for a very long time. What boggles the mind is that the same have likely read this passage. Jesus, knowing the hearts of men, makes sure to clarify that the heavenly position and calling of the disciple in no way justifies the pattern in man to desire to judge others. If they do, they will be judged by God. We find, that to cut ourselves off from others in the world is to cut ourselves off from fellowship with Christ.
What has been made abundantly clear is that the disciple follows Christ, and only Christ, and so he is to be like Him in all His ways. So, when the believer approaches and unbeliever, he is not presenting himself but Christ. Christ is between the disciples and all others, even other believers. The Lord is always the Mediator. When I approach an unbeliever I am approaching him as if Christ were approaching him, and what does Christ bring to him? Certainly it isn't judgment upon his sin or condemnation of his evil. Christ cannot be judged for it and then come along and judge another for it. Christ brings forgiveness, salvation, grace, mercy, and the offer of all things good and eternal to every man; He brings love.
JOH 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
JOH 16:8-9 "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;"
Christ said that the Holy Spirit will convict the world concerning sin, but then mentions one and only one sin - not believing in Him. The Holy Spirit indwells every believer and when that believer as a disciple of Christ who has within himself the hidden treasure of love and glory approaches one who is unregenerate, it is not judgment for sin and evil that he brings, but great love in the message that there is only one thing amiss in their lives and it is not all the thing that they thought it was. They have yet to believe in Christ as their Savior. Every other evil and sin has been atoned by Christ when He died for them. This is the total opposite of judging them.
The disciple doesn't stand aloof from all men. Though he is holy unto God, he, like Paul stated (1 Corinthians 9:22), is all things to all men. By what Jesus stated so far, the frontier between the old life and the new life was clearly drawn, and it would be so easy to equate such a change in position as withdrawing from the unsaved and judging their lack of faith and worldly lifestyles. What other lifestyles do worldly unregenerate people have available to them? When we judge their evil, we are judging the same evil that is inside of us.
We were all unregenerate once and in that place we were all burdened with excessive sin. If we are disciples we purpose to do and commit far less sin, but we are not sinless. At times we can find ourselves thinking again just like and unbeliever, though it may be for a moment. How is it that we all don't live in excessive guilt over the sin and evil that still exists in us? We know we are completely forgiven and we know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (ROM 8:1). If we judge the unbeliever, we are judging ourselves, which is something that we are not allowed to do since only God is our judge. So Christ says, "And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."
The log in the Christian's eye would be the misunderstanding that holiness is a justification for separation from the unbeliever in judgment. What speck will we actually see in our brother's eye when the log of judgment out of our own? We will see that there is only one thing out of place within him; his lack of faith in Christ. We will also see his vast and gapping desire for peace, forgiveness, love, a true Father, and eternity. In other words, in seeing the speck that is in his eye, we will see ourselves.
We long for forgiveness, salvation, peace, and love and we have it. This doesn't mean that our longing disappears completely, though we would no longer label it as longing. It has changed to gratitude. True gratitude never forgets what was given and by whom. We find that same longing in our fellow man and we as disciples have brought Christ to him to fulfill it. Or did Christ not die for him? Did Christ only offer such priceless gifts to you and not to him? These are essentially the thoughts of the Christian judger, and because they are, he has walked far away from fellowship with Christ rather than closer. So Christ says, "Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself, and to love him as yourself is simply to see yourself in him.
The same evil and sin is just as much in us as it is in every man. We are not stupid or naïve to say that stealing a slice of bread is just as bad as murdering an innocent man in cold blood in order to take his bread, but the root of both of them are the same, it's just that one is far more unrestrained. Selfishness, the desire to be a god above all others, lust, and pride are in every man. When we judge another we are judging ourselves, and this is never the reason we come to mankind with the gospel. Can we imagine a Christian man coming to another in need of salvation and we witness him tell the other all of his sins and evil thoughts to only then just walk away. It is the same as judging the other. Christ has already judged us all in Himself on Cavalry. He has taken our judgment upon His own body. We could never take His place. We bring Christ to the other and not ourselves, and when Christ comes, the most magnificent gifts are offered without cost.
What might seem out of place in this segment of the sermon is that Christ again mentions prayer, but it fits perfectly. When studying a passage we are to never leave its context. Great errors in doctrine are made when that is done. The context is judging and specifically not judging. There are certain truths that need to be very clear in the understanding of my heart if I am going to obey commands successfully, and finding clarity is always a call to prayer. The Father brings light and clarity when we ask Him. Christ says, I ask to receive, I knock so a door will open, and I seek so I can find.
Ask and receive:
What is it that I want to receive? If I'm going to be a judger I want to receive vindication or justification of myself. I'm already justified, but not because my sin is less than another's, but because Christ died for Me and gave me life. If I seek justification by judging another than I apply justification to myself in one way and to the other in another way. This is not at all true of justification, since it is freely offered to all men. So then, judging is blindness and that is not something that anyone seeks to receive. As a disciple I am seeking sight and light and that is found in love. Judging is blindness but love is illuminating. Love opens my eyes to the need that is in my neighbor, which need Christ will fulfill, and Christ has come with me to meet his need. God's love in me sees the other forgiven at the foot of the cross along with myself, right next to me, beholding the same Savior as me. Therefore, in prayer I am seeking the sight of love so that I am a true witness to the light every day.
Knock and it shall be opened:
What is it that I want opened? It is obvious that the only thing that needs to be opened in this context is the heart of the unbeliever to Jesus. If we are judgers we want the evil of their sins to be opened before us so that we can pronounce our judgment upon them, and then we comfortably claim our superiority as Christians, leaving them behind, knee deep in the mire of darkness as we sanctimoniously walk away. Such behavior is far from Christ. Rather, we are to look past all our opinions. I am not forbidden to have my own thoughts about the other person and to realize his shortcomings, but only to the extent that it offers to me an occasion for forgiveness and unconditional love, as Jesus has always proved to me. I want his mind to be opened to the truth that only one thing is wrong with him, his lack of faith in Christ. In this way I am like John the Baptist, sent to warn and prepare Israel for the coming of the Messiah. John knocked on the door of Israel and bid them to open their minds to the truth that no one could be justified by keeping the Law (as so many of them thought) but only through the cleansing that would come from the Messiah. We go to God and knock, asking Him to help us always to see the ways of properly knocking with Christ upon another man's soul. Yet, one caution is given; "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."
At first this seems to say that we shouldn't give the holy gospel to the world at all, but this is a reference to pushing too hard. The gospel, until the time of the final judgment of man by God, carries with it a certain weakness. Its weakness is that it can be rejected. We are not to bully or torture another into believing the gospel. When the gospel is rejected, the gospel does not reach out with holy hands to choke the air out of the person until he gives in. No disciple has the right to force the issue. If the gospel is given and the person or persons continue to remain as dogs and swine then to continue to push the truth upon then in some hope of proselytizing them will only cause them to trample those pearls under their swine feet. They will spit on forgiveness and stomp on mercy and profane the holy gospel. We will in essence be pushing the beautiful gospel against blind rage. We must know when it is time to shake the dust off of our feet and go when the gospel is refused.
MAT 5:10-12 "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Seek and you shall find:
What is it that I seek? If I am a judger I seek my neighbor's shame from the vantage of my pedestal. If I have the heart of God's love then I seek his reconciliation to God. We do not see Jesus or Paul reciting the same script when witnessing to another. Paul followed Jesus' example who took a genuine interest in the lives of others. Certainly not in their sins, for we do not offer a cheap grace that condones sin and evil. We offer a gospel in which sin caused the greatest death and through Him has been fully condemned. Jesus had compassion on others. He spoke to their needs. He spoke to the rich man seeking eternal life differently than He did to the tax-collectors who didn't ask Him for eternal life. He overturned the proper things so that they could discover the one thing, Him. Like looking for a treasure in a field, but with understanding and insight, He overturned the right stones and the right fallen branches in order to discover the treasure. We go to the Father and ask Him for this insight. God indwells the believer and through His supernatural way He will convey wisdom to us so that we may seek where we should be seeking.
So why are we to do so continually? We ask, seek, and knock continually because there is always a continual stream of unbelievers in this world that we come across every day. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. The opportunities abound. Souls full of desire for eternal things are all around. We do not wish to miss one opportunity and so we keep asking, seeking, and knocking to God so that Christ in us may successfully ask, seek, and knock unto others.
In His glorious name,