With the Pharisees and Saducees standing around leering at Jesus, caustically criticizing his every word, they saw him look gently to the very crowd of people he had previously described as "sheep without a shepherd." Jesus purposely told a story which would have had amazing implications in his day. An ungrateful son, rebellious and undeserving in every way, took his inheritance and squandered it on a profligate life.
In the story, the Father, (Jesus), lets his son go and allows him to experience the foolishness of his decision. He does not retrieve him from his dire consequences, but is waiting every day, watching for his son to return.
How amazing, Jesus is the Father longingly looking out with compassion and affection for his prodigal son, to restore, to love, to bless him with a heart full of godly love and forgiveness.
Are not we all prodigals, in different ways, leaving the generous love and mercy of our God, thinking something else will satisfy.
And yet, all of us disappoint, fall short, live selfishly, unworthy of his love. All of us.
Yet, he is there, always looking for the precious lost one, the weary, the fallen the sad--to fully restore them into his pleasure and love.
Recently I received a letter from a sweet mom who said, "I have been hiding the story of my life because I was afraid I would be rejected by other Christian women."
Her marriage had been impossible, she had received bad counsel, a divorce had taken place. Her heart was broken.
Another had a sordid past before becoming a believer, and she was sure her friends would reject her if they knew.
Another friend had a prodigal. Another had a beautiful daughter who lived morally and had a good heart but was rejected for her clothing and was ostracized from her peer group and almost despaired in her faith in God. "How could Christians, who are supposed to love, treat me this way, when I have done nothing wrong?"
I have friends in my life who walk with God and yet they have had to bear with the onslaught of culture's battles raging in the lives of their children that have wrought scars. I have felt the ravage of disappointment from others and criticism, and so have my children.
Others have written articles on the web that they have been cast out from the crowd for voicing.
"Judge not lest ye be judged."
"It is to a man's honor to overlook a sin."
"Take the log out of your own eye."
We all want God to be patient when it comes to our own lives, but we are quick to point fingers of judgment at others as though their fragility and flaws are somehow worse than ours.
The older I get, the more I give grace and have compassion because I see my own selfish, sinful heart more clearly and so am more grateful for God's grace than ever before. Seeing your own self in the light of God's holiness humbles you. God tells us Himself that he gives grace to the humble but is opposed to the proud. Humility opens our eyes more clearly to the magnificent sacrifice of Jesus--while we were yet sinners, he came into the world, he touched lepers, he forgave prostitutes, he had compassion on the crowds because they had no one to shepherd them.
I live in a world of swirling ideals--I uphold ideals, I seek to be holy, I teach my children about the righteousness of God
but these ideals should never give me a reason for judging others.
My ideals, which I have come to by the grace of God, should always lead me to serve, to help others find the path, to show others the grace I have been given, to accept others as I long to be accepted.
Even my own family has been more harmed in their walk with God by "Christians" than by unbelievers. My children have been targets of wagging tongues. But our family circle is a place where holy love abides and where safety and mercy are upheld--where Jesus' love flows freely.
Still, words can hurt deeply and can have consequences--woe to us if we are vessels of separation in the body of Christ.
He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.
Oh, the wisdom, the love, the grace, the freedom I find in Him. He is safe. Real friends provide safety, where hearts can be shared without fear of condemnation.
It would be easier to be a Christian if it were not for all the Christians who are so very judgmental.
Let us be those who love, who remember, "Love covers a multitude of sin." "Love is a perfect bond of unity."
I have often said, those who have not yet been humbled enough are the first to be critical.
Criticism kills. Love heals. May we all become better lovers day by day so that we are not a part of killing the dimly burning wick of faith in precious ones who have secrets and are longing for comfort, for grace, for help, acceptance, forgiveness.
May we all live, today, in the beloved grace and patience and mercy of God which is new every morning.
Have you sinned? Have you failed? Are you failing now? Have you been weak? Do you bear a difficult secret or shame?
God loves you and is waiting for you with His open arms of mercy. Live in the strength of His grace, go in the power of His resurrection love, and then, by your gratefulness, extend the mercy to others that you have so longed for in your life.
"They will know you by your love for one another."
"Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."
Hope you can join me as we talk about many other graces that give us confidence, peace, and wisdom to live our lives in the grace and strength of God. Giving away 2 conference tickets away for the webinar! a Rafflecopter giveaway