At the end of last year, I watched the fascinating Blue Planet II documentary series, where David Attenborough took us into the depths of the oceans, through hitherto unseen footage, to spy on the vast array of life under the sea. Two things struck me in particular. Firstly, the beauty, complexity and intelligence of the marine creatures that live, for the most part, hidden from human gaze and secondly, how perfectly the needs of each plant and animal are met. Not only is there a well-ordered food chain, but each species dwells in a designated habitat to optimise well-being, community and reproduction. As I viewed each episode, I felt like I was sharing in God’s secret universe, a universe that revealed the joy and care with which it was fashioned. I could just imagine God, too, looking in on the daily lives of these deep-sea organisms and taking delight in the elegance and intricacy of his designs. No wonder in Genesis 1:21, when He had created ‘every living thing with which the water teems’, ‘God saw that it was good’!
When we consider how attentively we were ‘knit together in our mother’s womb’ (Psalm 139:13) and how abundantly God provides for each of his creations, it challenges us to rely on him and trust in him more for our own welfare. God is a good God and He wants to give us everything we need, yet often we wrestle him for control, put ourselves in charge and consequently assume the heavy burden of worrying how our needs will be met. In Matthew 6:25-34, God makes it quite clear that we are his top priority and that He desires to provide for us (v26). At the most basic level, he wants us to have enough to eat, drink and wear, but He is a generous God and gives good gifts, not just the essentials! He gently reminds us, though, that our relationship with Him is more important than our shopping list. He longs for us to love Him and put Him first in our lives, ahead of craving after the next new iPhone, snazzy car or all-singing all-dancing TV. When we put God first, His blessings will flow and we need not worry about anything. He will look after us even more lovingly than He does those wondrous creatures in the deep blue sea and He will bless every area of our lives. Praise God!
Matthew 7:1-23 highlights heart attitudes that help us stay close to God.
- 7:1-6 Don’t judge people. It’s impossible to judge someone when you are looking at them through the same lens of love that Jesus focuses with when he looks at us. Often when we pick out others’ faults, it’s because we are not facing up to our own shortcomings.
- 7:7-11 Depend on and trust in God. God offers all people the opportunity for salvation leading to eternal life – ‘to the one who knocks, the door will be opened’ (v8) and He reassures us of His Father heart – ‘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!’ (v11). He is a prayer-answering God, joyfully blessing us with good things and encouraging us to persevere in our requests. God doesn’t always give us what we ask for when we ask for it, but He gives us what He knows is good for us in His perfect timing.
- 7:12 Treat others the way you would like to be treated. This is known as ‘The Golden Rule’. This involves not just treating people well who are nice to us, but those who aren’t, too!
- 7:13-14 Have faith in Jesus (the narrow path); don’t be tempted to digress and stray onto the wide path of compromise and sinfulness.
- 7:15-20 Be wise who you listen to and look at the results of their ministry. Faithful bible teachers will grow faith-filled disciples, but deceiving teachers will breed insincere companions.
- 7:21-23 Be sincere in your love for God and give Him the glory in all things. Our obedience is more valuable than any works we do in his name.