“And 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 falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.”
– Luke 15:11-15,17-26,28-31
This week I’m tasked with conveying two concepts into one topic. The task is no small one seeing that both concepts could easily and equally stand their own ground; however, there is something special that happens when you stand back and let them come together to work towards one goal. What is that goal? The amazing love and gratification that God takes in being a good shepherd or responsible Stewart for His children. A lot of people talk about it, many preachers preach about it, but only a handful of people actually experience it. In this topic we are going to both get exposure and experience to the kind of stewardship God demonstrates for those who will choose to believe in His son and live their life according to His will. The two concepts are those of “grace” and “gratuity.” Ride along with me for a moment as we travel through what it means for Him to be our God and we, His children.
The text before us is one that is no stranger to us. We have all heard of the two sons and the one who demand his share of his inheritance. We have all heard that once he got what he wanted, he went and wasted it all living a life that was very much ungodly. We have even all heard about the other brother, the one that stayed with the father, and how he was angry at the celebration that was going on for his brother. However, how many of us have heard that grace has in it the ability to allow you to make a fool out of yourself? How many of us have heard that grace is a level of patience that will allow you to go and discover that the grass isn’t as green as it appears to be on the other side? Better yet, who knew that grace was a teaching mechanism that will allow you to venture off with resources only to learn you that resources without a source is the same as a flower being planted in the desert. What does that mean? It looks good for a moment, but soon life starts to run its course. Eventually, what once looked good and seemed like it was good will succumb to the environment that it has been planted in if it is planted without the proper source for enrichment. As a result, if there is nothing there to replenish, nourish, or sustain it, what once seemed worthwhile will soon be seen withering. Why does it begin to wither? It has disconnected from its source.
That’s what we see happen with the younger son from our text. He saw all that was supposed to be his and wanted it now. Shortly after he got it, he decided it was time to venture off and live life the way he saw fit. He partied when he wanted to, he did what he wanted to, he bought what he wanted to, which is all to say that he simply lived life in a manner that was out of control. Couldn’t nobody tell him nothing. Soon, he found out that resources without a source connection will eventually run out or deplete itself. That’s when he found himself in the fields feeding pigs. Not only was he in the field feeding pigs, but he was so low that he desired to eat what the pigs was eating. Quick intermission from the topic. Watch this.
The Bible says that no one would give him any. This means that they knew who he was and that he was hungry, but they didn’t even think enough of him to give him what the pigs were eating. Can I make this a little more plain for us? Friends had turned their backs on him. His resources were the cause of their being linked together to him. Thus, no resources equals no friends. This causes me to believe that his once favor has now diminished. Now, can I give y’all a real quick shout cue? This is how you can tell when someone really has true favor of God on their lives. Even at their lowest point, it wouldn’t appear as such because every time they turn around He keeps on blessing them or having other people to bless them. True favor is present when you’re riding high on the mountaintop and just trying to survive in the valley low. You missed it! It’s okay it doesn’t really have anything to do with the topic, rather it was a nugget to let somebody know that although your life may not be going as well as you would like for it to be, there is still the stench of the favor of God on your life that keeps causing you to get a glimpse a what God has for you.
However, (back to the point) this son soon comes to the realization that he has a father that loves him, and that being in his house as hired help would be better than suffering what he has currently caused to come upon himself. Question: What are you going through that you have caused to come up on yourself? I know you thought everything was the devil or the enemy trying to attack you, but I simply stop by to inform us that some of the stuff we experience is not an attack of the enemy. There is some stuff that we experience that is a direct result of an attack of the ego, meaning we allow our ego to get the beat of us and cause us to make foolish, unwise, and immature decisions. So, the boy decided to return to his father’s house and throw himself at his mercy seeing that he feels he has disappointed and/or let him down so greatly. How do I know this? He told his father that he had sinned against heaven and in his sight, thereby making him unworthy of being called his son. This shows that the boy did have some awareness of the fact that his actions were not in keeping with living an upright and Holy lifestyle. Yet, check out the father’s response to the entire situation. The Bible says that he saw his son returning home from a far off and had compassion for him, so he ran out and embraced him and kissed him. Then, he told the servant to bring a robe and put it on him, put a ring on his hand, kill the fatted calf, and let’s have a celebration. What happened? The father both demonstrated and extended the true meaning of grace.
Grace is the unbiased, unmerited, and undeserving credit of favor in spite of your past, your present, and your future. In other words, grace is not based on anything about you or your doings, rather it is based on and about the doings of someone else. Okay that didn’t make you shout or get you excited about grace, so let’s try it this way. Grace is a veil of protection that separates us from the judgement of God, (watch this) as long as we stay covered by said veil. What’s this veil? The blood of Jesus! His blood has in it the ability to wash, cleanse, redeem, heal, deliver, set free, sanctify, rectify, glory, purify, oh yeah and cover or hide. As long as we stay covered, meaning working the will of the Father and keeping the faith, then his blood stands in the gap to cover our mistakes and shortcomings. Keep in mind, that his blood nor His grace is neither a license to sin nor a free pass to do whatever we want; instead, it’s a covering of our past so that we can embrace our future.
Here is the thing that I think we miss out on when it comes to this particular Bible story. The father knew exactly what the son was doing. He knew the son had made a many of mistakes, and that he most likely didn’t care whether he was making a mistake or not. The father knew the son was not in no way, form, or fashion interested in doing what was right. As a matter of fact, I would insinuate that the father knew his son had no intentions on honoring him let alone preserving the name and legacy of the family. However, in spite of all of that the father still kept an eye out for the son in hopes that he would one day come to his senses, return unto him, and fully submit to what he was purposed to do. Watch this. When he saw his son coming, he extended compassion. He didn’t tell him how disappointed he was, how upset he was, or how dirty and sinful he was. Instead, he looked past all that and said this is my son who was dead but is now alive. He was lost but is now found. Those are some strong words to describe a person, so why would the father associate this with his son?
In order to answer this question you have to put the story into the context that it was it was meant to be relayed in. This story at eye level was about a father and his sons, but when you look at it deeper it is actually about God and his children. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. It also says that we are all born into sin. Thus, we can safely say that everyone is born into sin and subsequently into death. However, God being the just God that He is didn’t see fit to let none of these things be as they were. What do you mean Kean? You see, there is more to the scripture about the wages of sin. It continues on by saying but the gift of God is eternal life. What’s this gift? The son that was sent for the sole purpose of reestablishing God’s plan for our lives. What’s the plan? That we shall live and not die, declaring the works of god unto all we may come into contact with. That was the original plan from the beginning, which is why He instructed Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That is also why he gave us a choice of choosing between life and death. It was all for the sole purpose of us living life abundantly blessed by everything God created and gave us dominion over. That’s what He saw as good right before He decided that He was finished creating and took His rest.
It was all about the display of grace between a father and his child, the creator and the creation, or the shepherd and his sheep. I believe the reason the father chose to divide and disperse his children’s inheritance to them was to show one, the youngest, that it’s not about you seeing what’s soon to be yours and manipulating or demanding your way to having it. Instead, it’s about you seeing what’s yours and being mature enough to discover what needs to be done in order for me to go in and possess it. In other words, the inheritance (though it is rightfully yours) is a lethal, self-destructing weapon in the hands of loathsome, self-indulging fool. However, when we are not willing to pick up the pen and paper and begin learning for ourselves, life has a way of teaching what we once overlooked, tried to skip, or simply resolved to be irrelevant. The young son experienced this when he hit rock bottom and found himself in the pigs’ den. Yet, despite it all the father still welcomed him back with open arms and restored him to his rightful place. What other explanation is there for this other than grace? The boy didn’t earn it, didn’t stumble upon it, didn’t sow or give towards it, and most certainly didn’t deserve it, but in spite of the father said welcome home.
I’m trying to get us to understand this is the way God is with use. He allows us to go off into the world and make a fool of ourselves. He allows us to wonder from place to place looking for fulfillment, joy, and peace only to find out that you can’t get it through stuff. He allows us to seek out people for approval just to show us that He is the only one we should be worried about being approved by. Money will fade. People will leave. Stuff will disappear. Oh, but there is one thing that will never fade, leave, or disappear. That’s God’s love, which thereby triggers His grace towards us. No matter what you have done He’s standing and waiting with arms wide open to say welcome home my child. No matter who you have done it with, He’s still there waiting on you to make up your mind to return so that he can tell you welcome home my child. “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 creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Gods grace is so amazing that it’s able to meet you right where you are and welcome you home. Now I understand why the older saints sang, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” Tap into it!
Somebody needed to understand this grace today, and that’s why I broke the topic into two parts. I will discuss part two next week along with the lesson for the other son, the one who stayed behind. Until then, Be blessed and Stay encouraged!