James 4:1-3 NKJV
Matthew 5:38-42 NKJV
Exodus 22:26 and Deuteronomy 24:13
Galatians 6:7 NKJV
2 Peter 3:18 NKJV
Asking and having what we ask for sounds easy and pretty silly that we don’t take advantage just by asking!
James gives a few great examples of things we experience when we can ask for God’s help.
In James 4:1-2 he says, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”
Jesus gave us a few good examples of evil men fighting for what they want.
In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”
Jesus’ first example of being confronted by an evil person who slaps us tells us if someone slaps you on your right cheek, we are of offer the other cheek. What the scripture doesn’t say is that in the 1st Century culture if someone facing you slaps you on your right cheek it was done with the top of their right hand (the palm was not used). If you offer that person your left cheek, they had to use the top part of their left hand. For someone slap with their left hand in that culture it would have defiled the person doing the slapping and brought great insult upon them. That’s because the left hand was considered to be unclean. Remember they didn’t have toilet paper in the 1st Century so the left hand was used to clean waste off their. That’s why it was unclean.
If someone used their unclean hand to strike another person, their own action brought insult on themselves (we reap what we sow).
Likewise, if someone evil tries to steal your tunic, we are told to give him your cloak as well. Taking someone’s cloak and keeping it overnight was forbidden in Exodus 22:26 and Deuteronomy 24:13. When someone asks you who took your cloak, you would tell the truth and they would have defied what was written in scripture (reap what you sow would apply here as well). Insult would be laid on their head by their own actions.
Also in Matthew 5:41-42, if someone evil demands that you walk one mile to go get something for them, offer to go two miles. In Jesus’ time Judea was under Roman rule and a Roman soldier was allowed to ask a Jew to carry their pack for one mile (one mile only). If that Jew said he would carry the pack for two miles it would have caused the Roman Soldier to break His own Roman Law, which would have brought insult upon him (he also would reap what he has sown).
For years, the above examples were taught from the perspective that Jesus was saying we are to let people walk on us. I do not believe Jesus was saying that at all. Understanding the culture is the key. Jesus was actually letting the evil person reap what they have sown.
BUT, Jesus did it in a really smart way. In each case, he put the responsibility back onto the evil person. The Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
In modern day life that’s still true; ‘God is not mocked’. If an evil person seeks to harm you, turn the matter over to God. God is in the business of bringing good from evil (Romans 8:28). Think of it this way, if someone intends evil for you, ask God that they will reap what they have sown.
According to James in 4:3 we learn, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” What James knew is that when two Jewish Christian brothers in the church were fighting, both believed God was on THEIR side. So, they were only thinking of themselves and not the other person. Both of them were selfishly asking God to give them victory so they were ‘asking amiss’. In other words, they were doing it so they could put their own cause forward. They ask amiss.
This example is a perfect modern day church scenario: Two parishioners are fighting. One wants church to start at 9 am on Sunday so he can watch his favorite Sunday morning program. The second parishioner wants it to start at 8:30 am so his son Johnny can go play ball with his friends when Church lets out. Both think they have a good reason for their request. Both ask God to give them what they want. Both are thinking only of themselves and they are not considering their brother, or what God wants. They ask amiss.
Overall, it’s been my experience that knowing what to ask for is a learned skill. We learn by doing. We learn by remembering how God has answered our prayers in the past. We learn as we grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus. We learn to think of the other person. If the person has evil desires (the examples from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5), we ask God that they will reap what they have sown.
Remember what Paul said in Galatians 6:7…’God is not mocked’.
All in all, as we walk with God, we learn to put on the character of God as we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Pray
Ask The Holy Spirit to teach you how to pray.
In God, Deborah