Question: "What does it mean that God gives good gifts (Matthew 7:11)?"

Answer: Some people carry childhood emotional baggage that skews their perceptions about the goodness of God. One pastor observes, “I have come across several people who have a deeply rooted impression of God as a trickster. They view him as a kind of cosmic killjoy with a warped sense of humor. These individuals often come from an abusive background, so their ability to trust a father figure has been severely damaged. To them, God lives only to bring them some kind of grief. . . . As a result, they withhold intimate trust from him” (Weber, S. K., Matthew, vol. 1, Holman New Testament Commentary, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000, p. 99).

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus indirectly addressed these injured souls, stressing that God is an exceedingly loving Father who gives good gifts to His children: “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:9–11, NLT).

The heavenly Father desires every child of His to know that He can be trusted (Numbers 23:19; Romans 8:28). He is a good and loving “Abba Father” (see Mark 14:36; Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:15) who gives good gifts to His children. No matter how badly one has suffered at the hands of earthly parents, the Bible offers hope and comfort to broken adults who still carry the scars of childhood abuse and abandonment.

Jesus said, “God gives good gifts” within the context of His teaching about prayer (see Matthew 6:5–18; 7:7–11). He taught the disciples to seek the Father in prayer because this is the path to knowing His heart and trusting Him fully. Scripture promises that, if we ask God, He will give us what we need. If we seek Him, we will find what we need. If we knock, He will open the door for us. Instead of fretting over the cares of this life, God’s children can take everything to Him in prayer (Matthew 6:25–34). Since the Father already knows what we need (verse 32), we can entrust our lives to Him and seek His kingdom above everything else (verse 33).

The apostle Paul echoed Jesus’ message: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).

In Luke’s account of Christ’s teaching, one of God’s good gifts is the Holy Spirit: “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:11–13, CSB). The Holy Spirit is God’s built-in gift to every believer to comfort, help, counsel, empower, guide, and so much more (John 7:37–39; 14:16; Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 2:10–11; 1 Peter 4:10; Titus 3:5). According to James, wisdom is another good gift of God: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

God wants His children to open their hearts in total dependence upon Him, trusting that they are safe and secure in His embrace. The Lord won’t trick us by giving us a stone instead of bread. Nor will He mock our prayers by presenting us with something harmful, like a snake instead of a fish. If we need food, He won’t abandon us or leave us begging for bread (Psalm 37:25). James writes, “So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession” (James 1:16–18, NLT).

God takes good care of His treasured children because He loves them perfectly. Human parents fall short (Psalm 14:3; Romans 3: 9–18, 23), but God’s love is perfect and eternal (1 John 4:7–21; Romans 8:31–39). The heavenly Father knows what’s best for His kids. He gives them what they need and not what harms them. Believers can trust God completely; because He is truly good, He cannot give anything but what is good.