“Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” (Luke 15:28-30 ESV)
Sometimes it is difficult to celebrate someone who lived foolishly and defied authority. When a man decides to change his ways for Jesus, there is something in me that says, “No way! He doesn’t deserve mercy! He should be punished and locked away for all the heartache he caused!” Watching that person smile and laugh can be infuriating because I have seen the worst of him.
The hard truth of the matter is that none of us deserve God’s grace and mercy. If he were to reveal every rotten thing that we have, done, or thought, we would falter in shame. We are all prodigal children and the Lord has been extremely patient with us. He gives an abundance of grace and mercy because he knows we like to take the long route to obedience. And because he does that for us, he wants us to do the same thing for others. He wants us to give grace and mercy to those who don’t deserve it.
This is a tough lesson because we are taught that good conduct and performance are to be rewarded, not the bad. But Jesus turned this around by giving everyone an equal chance to get right with God. This is why he told his disciples to not rejoice over their abilities, but to instead rejoice that their names are written in the Book of Life. To be justified by faith apart from works is the evidence of God’s graciousness, which puts us all on equal footing. He could have made it harder, but he didn’t. And for that reason, we should learn to follow his example. Have you ever pondered on much grace has he given you?