27th Week OT (Th)
To understand what Jesus is teaching us about prayer and gifts, we need to distinguish between and among three related terms: giving, getting, and receiving. I can give you a book. You can get that book from me. But did you receive the book as a gift? What if I had borrowed the book from you, and now I'm returning it? Is it a gift? No. What if you helped me organize my office in exchange for the book? That's payment; not a gift. What if I spilled coffee on your book, and now I'm replacing it with a new copy? Not a gift. For the book to be a gift it must be freely given and freely received. No strings attached. No obligations. If I expect you to read the book; write a report on it; and take a quiz. . .not a gift. There are strings attached. Jesus teaches us, “...ask and you will receive; seek and you will find...For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds...” Asking is receiving. Seeking is finding. God gives. We receive. God gives us every good gift from all eternity. From the instant of creation every good gift you will ever get has already been given to you. The exact date and time you will get those gifts is a mystery. What's not a mystery is that you will get those gifts only if you receive them as gifts. If you think of God's gifts as payments or loans or any other sort of conditional exchange, well, you have received them as something other than gifts. And you've missed the chance to give the proper response to receiving a gift – gratitude. However, if you receive His gifts as gifts and give Him thanks, then you grow in humility and improve your ability to recognize future gifts. The best strategy then for receiving God's gifts is to always and everywhere give Him thanks for whatever gifts He's already given you. Here's where faith comes into play – we don't know what's a gift and what isn't. God does. So, give Him thanks no matter what happens. Good, bad, ugly. Give Him thanks. Bad knees? Thank you, Lord. Career going well? Thank you, Lord. Trouble in your marriage? Thank you, Lord. Doing well in your classes? Thank you, Lord. Take every chance to be grateful. To grow in humility. Humility makes it possible for us to recognize God's gifts and receive them as such. It prompts us to ask for what we need and receive what we are given. Remember: we receive out of our faith, our trust. Our Father in heaven will not give us a snake when what we need is a fish.