Have some chutzpah!

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Luke 11:5-8 And He said to them, "Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within and say, 'Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you'? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

Since moving to Israel we've been thrust into a Middle Eastern culture of "extreme hospitality".  The above parable from Luke takes place in a similar cultural context, and it powerfully illustrates how God wants us to approach Him.

The word persistance in Greek is the word anaideia which can also be translated in more detail as "bold persistence" or "tenacity".  Look at the raw nerve this man has disturbing his sleeping neighbor in the middle of the night. He's calling out to him, expecting him to understand his need to provide food and hospitality for his unexpected guest, and even when his friend tries to turn him away…he is relentless! Here in Israel, we call that "chutzpah"!

Chutzpah is a difficult word to translate into English, but this is definitely an example of it – brazen boldness to continue knocking no matter the late hour or the stubborn selfish neighbor!

Now there are some of us who pray with this attitude, like God was a stubborn uncooperative friend who doesn't really care, or as though we're somehow bothering him as if we're waking him up in the middle of the night. But Yeshua (Jesus) is using this stubborn neighbor as a NEGATIVE illustration. He's saying the Father is NOT like that, but is a true and loving friend, one to whom we can bring all our needs, our troubles, and our problems because He will listen, and He will care! But God also wants us to be persistent, not to browbeat or pester Him for an answer, but rather, because we so believe in Him, and we want to express to Him just how much we really trust Him even when the answer doesn't come immediately. It's an expression of relentless faith which so pleases Him.

If this uncooperative neighbor finally gives a loaf to his friend, how much more will our Heavenly Father give to us, His children, if we come to Him with believing chutzpah? As long as we ask according to His will [1 John 5:14], we can confidently bring our requests, and even if we need to dig in and wait for His answers, it's because we know that our trust in His love and generosity will make him so happy. So… with so much work to be done, let's show some Holy chutzpah!

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  1. Can you explain the "negative illustration" again? What I understand of v. 8 is that the sleeping neighbor (God) will "get up and give as much as he needs" not because the man at the door is his friend, but because the man at the door was bold and persistant. Verse 9 says, "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you;" thus encouraging us to be bold and ask like the man at the door.

    So, where does the negative illustration apply?

  2. When I stated "negative illustration", I'm simply referring to the fact that this parable is not an exact picture of who God is — for example the parable of the Unjust Judge in Luke would be similar to this parable. Is God an unjust Judge? Of course not, but Jesus is simply describing how much MORE will God do for us if we simply ask Him. An example of a "positive illustration" would be the Father in the story of the Prodigal son — He's full of mercy and compassion — with unending love for his children.