Augustine of Hippo: Grow in your capacity to receive

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Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to Him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8

“She never stopped pleading, and he did out of weariness what he wouldn’t do out of kindness. Thus, by way of contrast He has urged us in this parable to ask…He is urging us to ask, seeing that it annoys Him if we don’t ask. But when He is sometimes rather slow in giving, He is upping the value of His gifts, not refusing them. Things long desired are obtained with greater pleasure if they are given at once, they lose their value. Ask, seek, insist. By asking and seeking you grow in your capacity to receive. God is keeping for you what He doesn’t wish to give you straightaway, so that you for your part may learn to have a great desire for great things.”

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) in Sermon 61 in Essential Sermons, translated by Edmund Hill, edited by Daniel Doyle (New York: New City Press, 2007) 99.

What does it mean to grow in our capacity to receive? It means to ask God for what we need and not be afraid to seek and insist in bringing our requests with patience and perseverance. This goes against our human tendencies.

Here’s how it often goes. We ask. We don’t receive. Instead of waiting and persisting we sort things on our own. We follow the ways of the world related to provision. Jesus explicitly tells us today to ask, to depend on God’s kindness, and to persist in asking.

When we need things, a good rule of thumb vertically (up and down) is to pray and ask God for what we think we need until He answers. Simultaneously, let us horizontally invite others to join us so that when God answers He receives all the glory.

Would you pray for my Global Trust Partners team? Tomorrow we convene in Washington D.C. for 3 days at ECFA and then fly to Colorado to retreat for 7 days. Pray that God blesses us with deep spiritual, strategic, and social time together. Pray for unity and clarity as we launch GTP together for God’s glory. Thanks.