Matthew 7:7-11 — Ask, Seek, Knock — Verbs That Indicate That You Do Not Have Something You Need

Posted: October 28, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 7:7-11
Ask, Seek, Knock

Do you remember the joy of Christmas morning when you were a kid and rushed into the room where the family Christmas tree stood and almost did a second base slide into the Christmas tree. Desperately looking for the presents with your name on them. You have spent the better part of the last 2 months begging your parents for this certain toy. There were other requests for minor things for Christmas but there was always that one thing. That major gift that was going the culmination of Christmas for you. The main toy. The main gift. The centerpiece of your expectations. Remember that? I do too. Remember the exceeding joy that you felt when you opened that main gift! Wow, everything was perfect then! That moment was perfect. That moment was complete in its happiness. Looking back now, it was not Santa Claus that knew. It was our parents. Our parents were attentive to what we wanted and needed. They listened. They did not ignore our pleas. Just think of the love that went in to growing us up to adulthood. Our parents showered us with gifts not just at Christmas. They gave us homes, clothing, food, and met every need we had. In the real world, you have to do something to get something. But our parents gave us all they had even though we did not generally do anything or enough of anything to deserve what they provided to us. Why do parents do that? Because they love us. God is the same way about us. He is attentive. He provides. He loves us. This thought brings us to today’s passage.

Today, we move into another famous passage from the Sermon on the Mount that is often quoted in both the religious and secular realms. In Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus continues the Sermon by saying,

“ 7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 “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!

This passage of Scripture is jam-packed with a lot of good stuff! It may take a while to get through it so please bear with me! The things that we want to look at and analyze in this passage are several. First, we will talk about the concept of action, a theme that has been ever-present throughout our study of the Sermon on the Mount. Second, we will look at the concept of that action in terms of a father’s love for his children and compare that to our Heavenly Father’s love for us.

So, let’s get started!

This first thing that you will notice in this passage is that the first verse (Matthew 7:7) is full of verbs, action words. Ask. Seek. Knock. Deeper than that though is that these action verbs that were chosen by their meaning have to do with trying to get or gain access to something that we do not have.

Ask
By definition, the verb, “to ask”, means “To request; to seek to obtain by words; to petition; to solicit; — often with of, in the sense of from, before the person addressed.” As you can see from the definition of this action word is that “to ask” is to seek knowledge that we do not currently possess. There is a certain sense of humility in that. Isn’t it? In order to ask for something, we first must admit that we do not have the answer on our own. We have two choices in that situation. First, we can let our pride rise up and we continue on without the knowledge and most likely learn the real answers through the mistakes that we make. There is also the possibility that we will not learn the right answer even through experience and will end up dazed and confused on the matter. Second, we can choose to swallow our pride and ask the question for which we need the answer. In such cases, we must go to a person who is wiser than us on the subject in question. It takes action on our part. It takes us getting fed up with “not knowing.” We must make a change. We must put away our own selfish defense of who we are and admit that we do not know. We must take action. Is it not the same way with accepting Jesus Christ into our lives and giving Him control of it? We come to see that wallowing around in our mistakes without the knowledge that we need is a useless existence. Trying to make it without the knowledge means our pride has gotten in the way. Thus, when we “give it up to the Lord”, we finally get on our knees and cry out to God and say I do not have the answers, please help me, Lord. We cry out for the Lord to give us the answers to life and its meaning. For us at this point, we admit that we do not understand what the point to our existence is and that it has become meaningless without Him. We admit that we have failed. We admit that we have screwed our lives up royally in our attempts to control it. We admit that we have been overcome by our mistakes and our sins. We admit that we do not have the answers and that we see nothing but hell’s fire in front of us. We ask the Lord to take it all over for us. We ask the Lord for the answers to all of our problems. WE ASK.

Seek
Now, let’s look at the verb “to seek”. The definition of this verb is “To go in search of; to look for; to search for; to try to find.” Here, we, again, see that we are after something that we do not have or possess. In order “to seek”, we must leave the current state we are in – and I don’t mean going to Georgia! LOL! As part of seeking, it is implied that we are dissatisfied with the way things are currently. We need something else. We are lacking in some way. As with everything Jesus said and did, there was purpose in it. Here in this passage there is purpose in the placement of the words in the verse. In our Christian walk, there is a progression. After we have “asked” and God has given us The Answer that we need, Jesus Christ – that answer being giving over control of our lives to Him, we progress to seeking. Once we have accepted Jesus into our lives, we seek Him. We seek His ways. We seek how He would respond to any given situation. So, we in our walk with Jesus, progress from asking (without knowledge), to seeking (having some knowledge but wanting more). When we ASK God, admitting we do not know what He knows, we receive. When we SEEK him, we WILL find him.

Knock
To end Verse 7, Jesus uses the verb “to knock”. It’s definition is “to strike a sounding blow with the fist, knuckles, or anything hard, especially on a door, window, or the like, as in seeking admittance, calling attention, or giving a signal: to knock on the door before entering.” In this definition we are seeking admittance. There is implied in this that we do not control our entry to the other side. Again with asking and seeking, we must take action to give up our control and give it to someone else. In this case, the one who has control is on the other side of the door. We knock to get their attention to let us in. In our progression through our Christian walk, we realize after asking God to take over, after a life time of seeking more knowledge of him and how to be more like him, we must knock on the door to gain admittance to Heaven. We know that we call are unworthy to just walk in the door. We come to learn that through our faith in the Risen Christ that we stand ready to knock on the door. We know that without that faith, the door will not be answered. We know that only through our faith in Jesus, that the door will be opened. WE KNOCK.

Next we move to the part of the passage that says, “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!” Jesus is telling us here that regardless of a father’s spiritual health, any father who is a real father to his children will not make sure that their children have what they need – not always what they want but what they need. We, as fathers, will make sure that our children have the things that they need to survive in life and to be successful on top of that. If even our earthly father’s do that, then, Jesus say, “C’mon, dude’s we are talking about our Heavenly Father here?” then how much more will our HEAVENLY Father do for us. But, notice we must begin with the ask…”to those who ask him.” The access to the gifts of our Father is through asking. As we have seen earlier, when we ask we are admitting that we are not the all-knowing, all-in-control person that we often think that we are. When we admit that we do not have the answers to it all and come to our Father and ask. In asking there will be willing submission. In asking, there is respect given. In asking, we realize we need our Father. That is all a father here on earth really wants, isn’t it? To be needed? To be respected? When that happens, we open our access to his gifts and do realize the blessing that these gifts are.

Through realizing that we are not in control through the actions of asking, seeking, and knocking that we find humility and submission to our Father’s will, we gain access to the wonderful power of God in our lives. When we are submitted to God and have his love in our heart, we see our fellow man as an opportunity to show the love of God. Showing the love of God – a God who gives us access to Heaven through his Son Jesus though we do not deserve it on our own merits. The Golden Rule as Matthew 7:12 is called, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the culmination of this progress which we will talk about tomorrow. Through asking, seeking, knocking, we learn that God is our Father and will take care of our needs for eternity through our submission to his place of authority in our life. If we think of ourselves as in control, we are not going to ask, seek, or knock. We think that we have got this. We do not need God. But, just as every rebellious teenager comes to know, they do actually need their earthly fathers, when we learn that we do not know it all is when we are ready to come to the Father in heaven. We learn that child-like dependence on God. What joy we find there. We know that our Father in Heaven loves us through His Son. We know that love means that He will never forsake us. He’s always God our best interest at heart. It is then that we ask Him, seek Him, and knock for Him.

Lord, reach me and show me that I am not in control of this thing I call my life. Through humility, allow me to come to you to ask for your power, to seek more knowledge of who you are and your ways. In so doing, show me that you are first in my life, my Father. In learning that your place is at the head of my life, it frees me to think of others. It frees me to do for others. It frees me to share the gift of grace you gave me through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Comments
  1. In the “our Father” prayer of Mt. 6:9-13, our heavenly Father especially gives the following good things to those who pray (ask): the coming of his kingdom (in the present and future); the doing of his will; simple daily bread; the forgiveness of sins; and the power to overcome temptations. Seeking first his kingdom (Mt. 6:33) is knocking on the narrow gate that leads to life (Mt. 7:13-14).

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