Why is it so hard to rejoice when someone we perceive as extremely wicked repents?
While we know every soul is precious we often act otherwise.
This chapter tells of God’s grace. It has one of the most well known Bible stories. The prodigal son tells of two brothers each loved. Their father gives his youngest his portion of inheritance only to have his son return to him in shame.
My pastor taught about the older son’s jealousy of the forgiveness the younger received. This is not a new concept to many. We all have been jealous of our state with God. We see people we think of as purely wicked gain forgiveness in their lives perhaps to die shortly afterward. We think to ourselves why God do you except them at life’s end after their wicked ways?
We forget how precious a person’s soul really is. What grace is. Grace is the undeserved forgiveness of our souls and restoration of us to God. We were made to belong to God. Why then should we feel such bitter malice towards any who become reconciled to God?
We become forgetful of our created purpose. This causes our minds to form judgment against the wicked person who has repented after much evil doing.
Now for those of you who might be thinking that you have never or would never feel like the older son did in this parable let me tell you a story.
I am going to make up a story about 7 people on an airplane.
We have two people flying the plane and a stewardess. That leaves four passengers of which one is a Christian.
Now let’s say the stewardess is also a Christian. She serves everyone drinks and goes into the bathroom to wash her hands. While gone three of the passengers pull out guns and kill the men flying the plane and two of them take over flying. One stays to keep the other passengers out of the way.
Now we have two dead with two flying and three in the passengers’ seats. The stewardess comes out to find herself in the midst of a tragedy in the making. She takes a seat and asks if she can pray. This is strange to the gun holder who doesn’t believe in God. Well, let’s say the stewardess is allowed to pray out loud even. Feeling moved the gun holder asks questions about God. He feels so drawn by what is being said. Tearful he lays his weapon down and kneels to pray.
Now let’s say the two flying are locked in the cockpit and are going to blow up the plane. Knowing this all four people pray for forgiveness and help. We now have four Christians.
The first Christian is bitter towards the former hijacker. He says to the Christian stewardess why should God forgive that wicked man since he has condemned us to death by aiding the other hijackers?! Do you really believe he will be forgiven for the two deaths already on his hands? Can this be fair? I have served God for 30 years! Why should God let him come with us to heaven?
Quietly the stewardess asks… Can you all close your eyes and visualize Jesus hanging on the cross? They all do reluctantly at first. She asks them… Was he at fault? Did he deserve to die? They all say no. Tears fall from their eyes. The bitter man suddenly realizes what her point is. In a trembling voice, he says forgive me brother to the former hijacker. He continues on and says I forgot that there is a difference between grace and fairness. Jesus died an unfair death to gain grace for us all. I am no more deserving of this grace than anyone else.
With repentant hearts, four passengers find themselves moments later standing before God. Each in grace equally and each partaking in this undeserved forgiveness. Unfairly won grace that none deserve but all are offered.
Who is that soul you are bitter and jealous of? That feeling of unfairness can you lay it down today? Grace can be found at the feet of Jesus. Beautiful grace purchased at an unfair price.