And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
These two precious verses have been used over the years to justify selfishness and greed amongst Christians. When we want something... anything whatsoever, we whip them out, point at them triumphantly and say "Jesus says if I ask for it in His name, He will do it so I am going to ask for _ (insert your wish in the blank) and God will do it because I ask it in Jesus name."
I hope at this point, you are squirming a bit at what I just said. It doesn't sound so good when stated so bluntly, does it. You might say it more nicely in a rather holy-sounding voice with partially closed eyes and an angelic uplifted face but in all honesty, you are saying exactly the same thing.
The word "steward" is a word which is not used much in America at least. We really do not have a good grasp of the meaning of this word. A steward is not the "master" or the "owner". He is the "manager". He acts on behalf of the master. The things he is entrusted with, such as money, is not his. He has the authority to do things not in his name but in the name of his master/employer. However... there is a stipulation. It must be in accordance with the will of His master.
Let's say you are the owner of a vast estate and you employ someone to act as your steward. You give your steward access to your bank account so they can write checks in your name to pay for the upkeep off the property, pay other servants, pay other bills and perhaps even do charitable giving at your direction.
You have to go on a long journey so you place all you have in the hands of your steward. Your steward has access to all you possess but who does it in actuality belong to, you... or your steward? It belongs to you and your steward is simply your administrator... acting in accordance with... your will. Not his will but your will.
I like how the above scripture is phrased in The Message for I think it gives us a more accurate picture of what this is talking about in language we more easily understand:
Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can't believe that, believe what you see these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I'm doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I've been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I'll do it. That's how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I'll do. John 14:11-14 (MSG)
So before we start asking things in Jesus' name, we need to ask ourselves this question. Is what I am asking really in accordance with the will of the Master or is it in accordance with my will? That's something to think about, isn't it...