BOGOF. Is it still just an acronym, or has it become slang? “Buy one, get one free” has become a common slogan, ready to captivate me as I browse through sales promotions. “Buy a new car, and get one free,” I read one day. And “Buy a new home at Royal View, and get a second new home at Cityscape free.”

Wow! What great deals! I thought. Not good enough for me to try, though. Intuition and experience have taught me that nothing comes free. And though I cannot explain those specific gimmicks, you are as aware as I am that their true goal is to draw us to the door of a store.

God at Your Door
While marketing minds concentrate on getting us to their doors, our God comes to our door with an offer that echoes the popular merchandizing lines, and yet is entirely different: “Ask one,” He says, “and I will give you that and much more.” No buying, except without money (see Isa. 55:1). All free!

As He said to Solomon: “Ask what I shall give you” (1 Kings 3:5).* God the Lord of the universe was ready to grant any blessing asked according to His immensurable riches and glory. He was the same God who had called to Samuel decades before and conversed with the lad once he had humbly whispered, “Speak, for your servant hears” (1 Sam. 3:10). And what did Solomon ask?

Wisdom
An understanding mind to discern good and evil, to govern the people he was given to rule (1 Kings 3:9). It looks so sublime and noble for a king to ask for such a thing. He asked not for riches, victory over his enemies, expansion of his kingdom, long life, or continuity of his reign for the generation to come, nor wives, wine, or world. He just asked for one thing—an understanding heart, a heart wise to rule. That was his request from the Lord, the source of all wisdom.  He sought for something better than gold, silver, jewels, or pleasantness and peace. One needs a right spirit to ask for such a blessing.

Ask and Get More
The request surely pleased God, who gave what he asked for, and much more for which he did not ask, for the Lord knows all our needs: “I give you a wise and discerning mind” (1 Kings 3:12), God said, so that there was none his equal in wisdom in the then-known world (1 Kings 4:29). Solomon spoke 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs. He spoke of trees, beasts, birds, reptiles, and fishes. There was no riddle he could not solve. Sheba’s queen was astonished enough to admit, in farewell, that what she had heard was not even half of what she had now seen (1 Kings 10:7).

Riches and Long Life
While Solomon asked for an understanding heart, the benevolent God determined to give what he had not mentioned. He blessed him with great wealth—shields of gold, a drinking cup of gold, silver to trample upon, an ivory throne. Everyone who sought Solomon’s presence and wisdom brought silver, gold, garments, myrrh, spices, horses and mules. Very many ate at his table.

God is Creator and owner of all. The gold, silver, and things visible and invisible belong to Him. The power to get wealth comes from Him. He gives. We get. If He closes His hand, we have nothing. The Lord who blessed Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, though they were sojourners, is able to grant us riches now, and heaven beyond.

God also gifted Solomon with length of days, but on condition that he “walk in [His] ways, keeping [His] statutes and [His] commandments” (1 Kings 3:14). First Kings 11 shows a dark side to Solomon’s life as he failed to walk in the Lord’s ways. The book of Ecclesiastes is the reflection of his realization and repentance.

Ask and Get More: Conditions
Ask in His name: When our son, Sylvester, was 3 years old we bought a Bajaj scooter for our daily commute. He dearly enjoyed riding on the new vehicle. As soon as I returned from work in the evening, he routinely asked for a ride in the neighborhood. Though I knew he wanted a ride, I waited for him to ask me, because I wanted to hear his childish-sweet voice after a gap of eight hours of work. God wants to hear our voice, our heartbeat, and our breath. He says: “Ask, it will be given to you” (Matt. 7:7).

Sometimes, like Zebedee’s sons, we ask amiss (Mark 10:35-40; James 4:3). God wants us to ask Him things that are consistent with His will and grace. And we shall receive as we ask the Father in His name, on His account (John 15:10). He is like an earthly father signing a loan document for the sake of his child. Undeserving as we are, Jesus has made provision for us to ask in His name, and receive. He has guaranteed all the grace we need to withdraw.

Ask and leave it to Him: In His infinite wisdom God knows what is best for us now and for the days ahead. We ask at times for serpents while thinking we asked for fish. God knows how to turn things out right. When the weight of sin was put upon Him, Jesus prayed: “Let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will” (Matt. 26:39). And Hannah, in her anguish and shame, pleaded to the Lord for a child just to cover her ignominy. But once the supplication was made, she “went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad” (1 Sam. 1:18). When we ask, we may leave it to Him.

Ask in consistency: We are to ask consistent with what He has promised to give. He has promised to provide for us, heal our sickness, comfort us in times of sorrow and pain, forgive our sins, transform us, use us for His ministry, and prepare us for His kingdom. But we must be careful lest selfish and evil intention hinder the divine possibilities: Sometimes we “ask and do not receive, because [we] ask wrongly, to spend it on [our] passions” (James 4:3).

God is good; and when His good Spirit moves on us to ask for the good of humankind, whom He has created and died to save, our prayers ascend as sweet savor.

A Better Offer
We need not be continually subject to the whims of marketing gimmickry. Jesus comes to our door with a better offer. We are to ask in His name, trusting, and with consistency. And we may delight with Him in His privilege to grant and give to us “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Eph. 3:20), whether of wisdom or of temporal riches or of life eternal in His wonderful presence. 

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* Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Paulasir Abraham is an associate pastor of the SouthEast  Asian Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland. This article was published April 25, 2013.



 

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