Good Gifts

For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
Good gifts. We ask, God provides. That’s how this thing works, right? TV preachers, for years, have been saying that God wants to give us blessing and wealth; riches and all the good stuff. And that seems to be what Jesus is saying here, isn’t he?
What happens when God doesn’t give us all that STUFF? Does He hate us? Did we do something wrong to make Him mad? Is He withholding the blessing because we crossed Him?
Sunday, I preached on suffering with Christ. This seems to be a real part of being a true follower of Jesus Christ, yet here in the United States of America, Christianity has found its own brand of discipleship. A place, where the American Dream is directly correlated to the blessing of God. Now, don’t get me wrong, nothing is given or taken away, except by the hand of God. He is involved in the blessing process and nothing happens in this little universe without His knowledge.
BUT…
when we begin to associate our faith with material blessings, that faith is shaky at best and at its worst, is no faith at all. This “health and wealth” gospel as many call it only holds up as long as life is peachy and the sun is shining.
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What happens when the rain comes and life is challenging? True discipleship happens in the tough times. Faith is strengthened by suffering. Paul and Peter both talk about how true faith is found in identifying with Christ’s suffering. Iron is sharpened in the fire, muscles are made strong by putting them through the wringer. Use whatever analogy you like, tough stuff makes us stronger if we are willing to walk through it with Jesus.
So what is Jesus talking about with these “good gifts”?
God’s idea of good gifts and our idea of good gifts, is a totally different discussion. Most times, in the USA, we aren’t even coming at this thing from the same solar system. We are world’s apart. God gives us, as Paul describes in his letter to the Galatians,
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Yes, sometimes we get some of the things that this world values – but God is most concerned, like any good parent would be, with our character and not our material lifestyle.
I’m still learning to live like this. Trusting in God’s brand of spiritual development, and not our Americanized version, is tough. How has God shaped you into who He desires you to be by allowing you to walk through tough stuff?
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