Jesus encourages us to pray by showing us that our heavenly Father is better than our earthly father and will far more certainly give us good things than any human father would. There is no evil in our heavenly Father. There is evil in every earthly father. This is very important. Fathers need to hear this. Wives need to hear this. Children and grown children need to hear this.
Let’s read Matthew 7:11 carefully and think on it deeply. “If you then, who are evil . . .” Now that’s quite unflattering and blunt — the way Jesus is most of the time. Just picture yourself in the scene here: “I’m John. I’m the apostle of love. If you talk to me that way, I feel beat up.” Why did Jesus do this? “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
“God is ten thousand times better than any good father.”
The Bible not only often draws attention to the similarity between human fatherhood and divine fatherhood; the Bible also often draws attention to the vast differences between human fatherhood and divine fatherhood. Can you think of any other places? Hebrews 12:10: “For they [earthly fathers] disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” The Bible is not unaware of this pain of this reality in the world: that all human fathers are evil — all of us.
So, Jesus goes beyond the encouragement of saying, “You have a Father in heaven.” He goes beyond that and he says, “You have a perfect father who has no evil,” and he contrasts God without evil with all fathers who are evil. Even if you had the very best father, you still have a good thing coming. God is ten thousand times better than your good father. The difference between a good earthly father and a bad earthly father is a millimeter, but the difference between God and the best earthly father is infinite.
Do you think there’s a huge gap between the bad father and the father you wish you had? Well, compared to how much better God is than the best father, it makes that difference very small. Don’t ever limit your understanding of the fatherhood of God to the experience of your own father — no matter how good he was or how bad he was. Rather, take heart that God has none of the sins of your father — none.
God has none of the limitations of your father. God has none of the weaknesses of your father, and he has none of the hang-ups of your father — none of them. The point Jesus is making is that even fallen fathers give good gifts, usually. Almost everywhere in the world — in spite of sin, in spite of evil — fathers are generally jealous for the good of their children. They would say, “If you try to mess with my kid, you deal with me.” That’s inside almost every father — sin or no sin. He’s on the side of his kid when his kid is in trouble. That’s what Jesus is picking up on.
“Take heart that God has none of the sins of your father.”
Jesus says, “If your father — sinner though he be, though you’re all evil — if he knows how to do anything good for his kid, just think of how much more your perfect heavenly Father is eager to do good things for his children.” Let that land on you. Jesus is laboring with people who have imperfect fathers to help you feel hopeful in prayer. That’s what he’s trying to do here.
He’s trying to get kids, grown kids, forty-year-old kids, who have nothing but horrible memories, on their face, full of hope, that the one in heaven is ten thousand times better. That’s what he’s trying to do.
Read, watch, or listen to the full message: