“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights . . .” (James 1:17).
“Please sir, I want some more.”
You probably recognize those words spoken by Oliver Twist in Charles Dickens’ classic tale of the same name. Oliver is a young boy, orphaned at birth in Dickens’ story set in 1830’s England. He is one of many orphans who are kept in cruel near-slave conditions and given meager rations to survive on. He warily approaches the master and makes his plea, but his request only causes the boy even more trouble. How dare this no-account waif ask for more! Who does he think he is to presume upon the charity of the master? We see the cruel irony of a hungry orphan approaching the well-fed head-master, and we understand that he at least deserves a decent meal to sustain him. He is not acting out of greed, but out of need. It is a reasonable request, we think.
Yet how often do we approach God with the same trepidation as Oliver Twist? How often do we approach Him as if we think He is a harsh master who will refuse us even the humblest request? We assume He rations out His blessings only to the most deserving, or worse, that He is holding back His blessings from us. That is what Satan implied to Eve in the Garden when He told her, “God knows that when you eat [of the fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God . . .” (Genesis 3:3). You can almost hear him hissing: “God is holding out on you missy, don’t be a naïve fool!” But we know that Satan is a liar, and the Bible reveals God as a generous Father who loves to give good things to His children.
Jesus compared our Heavenly Father with earthly fathers who provide for their children’s needs. And even though it is really no comparison at all, the Lord said if we, as human parents give our children what they need and desire, “how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?” (Matthew 7:11). How much more will the God who gave us life (Romans 4:17) give us what is necessary to sustain life? Why then, do we hesitate?
James 4:2 says “You do not have because you do not ask.” And Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Jesus Himself said “Ask and it will be given to you…” (Luke 11:9). I think we can all agree that this isn’t so much about stuff—houses and cars and a pair of Jimmy Choo’s, although God has generously provided a home and a vehicle for me when I needed them. (Still waiting on the shoes 🙂 But God promises to bless us when we ask for those things that are in His will, such as wisdom (James 1:5), healing (James 5:14-15), forgiveness (1 John 1:9), faith (Luke 17:5), joy (John 16:24), strength (Philippians 4:13), love (1 John 4:7), grace—actually “more grace” according to James 4:6. Best of all He gives us what we don’t even think to ask for: peace (John 14:27), hope (Romans 5:5), light (John 1:9), a future (Jeremiah 29:11), glory (John 17:22), revelation (John 17:26), direct access to the Father (John 16:23), and eternal life (John 17:2). He gave His only Son for you (John 3:16). Does that sound like He is holding out on you?
2 Peter 1:3 says He “has given us everything we need for life and godliness;” those things we need for life, like our daily bread (Matthew 5:11), clothes on our back (Matthew 6:30) and “all these things” that are necessary for life (Matthew 6:33). I’ve been the recipient of His practical generosity and kindness many, many times. He also promises to give us everything we need for a godly life: chiefly His Word (John 17:8) and His Spirit (John 14:16). God provides with a generous heart and an open hand.
I love John’s affirmation in 1 John 5:14-15: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: That if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” The writer of Hebrews echoes the same thought: “Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). That is an invitation we should jump at!
You do not have to come to your Heavenly Father with a sense of apprehension, as if you are asking for more than God is willing to bestow. He has so much he desires to give you—till your cup overflows (Psalm 23:5). Don’t come crawling to Him with a little teacup in your hand. Come running to your Father with the biggest bucket you can find, and He will fill it till is spills over and you can’t contain it all. He is a God who loves to give!
Holy Father, I cannot count the number of times You’ve blessed me—You have given and given and given even more. Not only do you give from an endless supply, but You give from extraordinary generosity. Please help me to always come to you with the confidence of a child coming to her loving Father. Amen