The mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. (Matthew 20:20-22)
The mother of James and John was right to come and place her petitions at the feet of the Savior. Where she erred was in over-asking—that is, asking for more than what had been promised. Jesus had indeed promised a throne to each of His disciples (Matthew 19:28), but He did not make provision for the placement of those thrones at His right and left hand. This praying mother—and you and I as well–needed to learn about asking aright. I hope you will read on and be encouraged today.
James, the brother of our Lord, admonished the church, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives” (James 4:3). It is easy for you and I to emulate the wife of Zebedee and over-ask in many ways. We believe that if a little is good, much more would surely be better. We remember that our God has invited us to come boldly before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16), assuring us, “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7); but we sometimes forget that He never said that He will give when we ask for more than He has promised.
I have written here on several occasions that God has promised to meet all of our needs, not all of our wants. Yet what do we have a tendency of doing? We re-classify some of our wants into needs. We tell the Lord we “need” a bigger house, a nicer car, a better job, or a bulging bank account. The list is endless. We fall into the wrong thinking that views God as some kind of cosmic genie who is there to make our every wish His command.
We are all a little bit like Lot. When the angels came to deliver Lot and his family from the destruction of Sodom, it was not enough for Lot to be saved. On the way out of town he made a request as to where he would like to settle. When told to flee to the mountains and not look back, Lot began to bargain with the angels for a place of his choosing. How often do we ask God for deliverance, promising, “Lord, if you will just get me out of this, I promise I will . . . ,” but when we are delivered, we immediately begin bargaining for a better blessing? Come to think of it, maybe we are all a lot like Lot!
We all must learn what the apostle Paul learned by way of personal experience: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). Paul had learned contentment, and in contentment he learned to ask aright by asking for nothing more than God has promised. Even in asking for the thorn to be removed, which God did not remove, Paul stopped at three requests. Remember, ask and you shall receive . . . but only when you ask aright. This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!