God is a Softie

 

We’re going through the book of Luke in my men’s Bible study, and we happened to have arrived at the story of the prodigal son Saturday. Naturally, I noticed new things, as always when you encounter a familiar scripture and pray for fresh insights. This stood out to me on this reading:

“Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. “And the younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.” Luke 15:11, 12, NKJV.

What kind of man has his son, a young man and clearly a brash fool, come to him with such a request, and actually comply? The father has a crazy streak! The younger son went to the father and asked for his share of the inheritance because he knew that the father had a crazy streak like he did. He knew the father had a soft spot for him and he played him like a harp. At least, that’s the way it seemed to the son.

As I’ve said before, the father was the furthest thing from a control freak. He was in fact a total enabler. He did it! He gave him everything, all of it, in one fell swoop, no strings attached. He knew it was extremely likely that he would squander it. He could only hope that maybe it would be otherwise. However, he also knew that the son’s heart was completely set on taking his provision and taking his freedom and taking off. He knew that the only way for him to really be a part of the family with his whole heart was to go and make his mistakes and come to the end of himself and return. Notice that he said none of this, but what father wouldn’t know it? We all know it with our sons, we were that fool, we see it in him so clearly.

So it is with God, with grace. We hear that we don’t want people to just come in, get saved, and run off to a life of sin. You can’t just give people everything, complete and total forgiveness and a 100% guaranteed ticket to heaven, and then just let them run off, right? Well, you certainly can, that is how God operates! That is how grace works! He gives us eternal life, forgiveness for our trespasses, all the way, all as a gift with no strings attached whatsoever. If we go and badly blow it, sin over and over and over, really get terribly carnal, there is a price to pay, but it is not that God frowns on us or loves us the less or loses His favor toward us. He hates to see the damage this does, but He yet loves and still longs for our return.

Legalistic Christian systems may offer gifts of acceptance, but they come with strings, with control. The Father’s offer is different – He gives us the whole kingdom, every gift, all up front. We may squander our opportunities, but He always loves, always seeks to restore our dignity, always welcomes us back crying with joy, and throws parties over our return. It may scandalize the elder brothers in our midst, but like the father in the story, He will contend on the prodigal’s behalf, He will defend our dignity. He will do everything to persist and always act from a father’s heart of love. This is the way the kingdom of God works, this is the relationship Jesus is teaching that you now have with God, your true father.

So, rejoice!

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39, NKJV.

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