“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
On last week, we discussed the first part of grace being extended. We saw a father and his two sons, and how the youngest son decided to one day demand of his father the inheritance that was his. The father divided and gave them their share of the inheritance promised to them. The youngest son went out and lived a lifestyle that was ungodly and unholy, thus his behavior was all out of control. He eventually ran out of inheritance and found himself at a point where he desired to eat with and like the pigs eat. Friends had walked away, family was not around, partying had come to a cease, and all that was left was him and his thoughts. Soon, the boy remembered that it was better to be a servant in his fathers house than to be in the predicament that he was currently in. He mustered up the strength to return and throw himself at his father’s mercy since he felt as if he had disappointed and/or betrayed his father’s trust, name, legacy, etc. Finally, we came to understand the true essence of grace through the father’s forgiveness of the son and the restorative measures he took once the son came home. Using the young boy, we saw that “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.”
Yeah, that’s shouting stuff right there. However, on this week we are going to experience another level of grace using the older son who stayed with the father. To start this off, allow me to impose this question to us: Why did he stay with the father? Yes, it can be argued that he was the son that was determined to do the will of the father and fulfill his purpose with the father’s help. It could also be argued that he stayed with the father in order to continue his sonship duties. Still, there could also be an argument made that his sole purpose in staying was to demonstrate his honor, commitment, and dedication to his father. However, I want to add something contrary to all of the above arguments. I want to add that perhaps he had a flawed reasoning for staying with the father, thus he only stayed behind with the father for perks instead of purpose. In other words, he stayed behind to see what else he could possibly get versus fulfilling an actual purpose. Need proof? Look at the son’s response to the father deciding to throw a party in honor of his lost son returning home. He basically said, “I have stayed faithful, committed, and given my life to being with you and serving you. In addition to that, not once have I sinned against you nor have I done anything to bring shame to you. Yet, you chose to celebrate him (the one who left and transgressed against you) over me (the one who was dedicated)!”
If many of us would be honest with ourselves, we have all been in the shoes of the son who stayed dedicated to his father. Some of us are probably still of this mindset right now. When someone you know haven’t been living right and doing whatever, with whoever gets to experience a blessing or blessings that’s the first thing we bring up. Lord, I’m here everyday praying, praising, serving, and holding up the blood stained banner for my Lord and you chose to bless them. I’m faithful to my church and pastor. I serve in several committees. I arrive early and leave late, and I pay tithes and give my offering; however, you blessed the one who robbed you and don’t do nothing in the church. Come on here and let’s be honest. It’s easy to fall into this snare of the enemy. It’s easy to keep track of what you do and don’t do, while looking at the lives of other individuals for justification. Oh, I know that stung but keep on reading. It’s easy to point the finger and bring up the wrongs of others while we sit on our high horse as if we are doing everything perfectly. However, have you stopped to consider that God could be allowing the ones you least expect to receive what appears to be blessings simply to grab your attention of drawing closer to the God of the blessing? Let that marinate for a moment, and I’m going to move on into my first point of grace, what are your motives for being dedicated?
I know that question causes pause to come upon you, but it is one that has to be addressed in the body of Christ. All too often, we see people so called operating in a position of power and they appear to be doing it with a pure and genuine heart. Oh, they are dedicated and committed, faithful and hardworking, standing steadfast and holding on, trusting and believing that God is about to perfect and make known his glory concerning them. Then, someone else comes along who is a recent convert to the body of Christ, and they begin flowing in their gift. Next thing you know, the newly converted takes off and experienced the glory of the father while the one who has been dedicated is still in the same place as before or when they started. Now the truth comes to light. The long-serving one has issues, doubts, and concerns about the newly converted methods and starts questioning God as to why they seem to be experiencing the glory that he/she has been waiting years to experience. God says, “You could have tapped into and experienced the same glory on your life and your business, ministry, or calling.” Question: What is the reason that the long-serving one didn’t tap into it? Can I make my first suggestion? I believe the reason for this is not about how faithful, dedicated, or committed one has been, rather is your heart pure and clean? The older brother couldn’t wait to bring up the past or sins of the younger, which says a lot as to the condition of his heart. Question: Do you act in the same manner as the older brother? Is you heart free from all envy, strife, malice, and jealousy? Is your heart’s pursuit the same as your own agenda or God’s original agenda? Too much or confusing? Is you heart in the business of serving God and doing His will, or servicing greed so that you can accomplish your agenda? Uh-huh. Moving on…
The next point is that of humility. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Bible says that the two boys were brothers and they both had the same father. The younger boy saw his newly acquired possessions and decided it was time to run off and live life. The older stayed behind. Here’s my question: What happened in between the young one deciding to leave and the older resolving to stay? Was there a conversation between the two? Better yet, did the older try to minister to the young one as a means of helping or assisting him to arriving at the proper path, or did he just watch him run off with his possessions (fully knowing what he was going to do) in hopes that he would somehow gain privilege in his father’s eyes? Can I make my next suggestion? There are times when your maturity and wisdom will need to be imparted into the life of someone who may be lacking in an area that you are graced to be familiar with. However, that can only happen when we humble ourselves and allow God to use us as his servant to go out, search for, and reclaim his lost sheep. Many times we miss this mark. Why? Too busy trying to prove something to someone, trying to step on others in order to get ahead ourselves, or simply too high minded to come down to help our brothers or sisters in need.
Yet, in spite of all of this, I simply stopped by to inform us that there is still a grace that is available once we are willing to address these issues. God is still standing by waiting for us to address the issues of our heart and take on the mantle of humility so that we can be used by Him to go out and reclaim both His people and His territory. Need Bible? If you read from the beginning of Luke 15, before you encounter the story of The Prodigal Son, you will come across the story of Jesus ministering about a shepherd who went out to find his lost sheep. You Missed It! Jesus says, “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing” (verses 4-5). I believe the Father was testing the older son to see are you truly worthy of the position, power, and possession that you desire. Can I give y’all the shout cue? In other words, I believe the father was saying if you want what I got, then do what I do and Go Out and reclaim what is rightfully mine! You Missed It Again! The Father is saying, both of you are my sons. You both have the potential to inherit not only my possessions but my position and power also. One of you only saw the possessions portion of me, while the other saw the position and power part of me. However, what neither of you understood was this: In order to truly have what you can have and inherit what is yours, then it requires you to be willing to go out and fight to reclaim what’s already mines in the first place. In other words, the father is telling the older son both the possessions and the power are apart of the position, in order to truly have both you must meet the criteria of the position.
This leads me into my last point of heritage. Heritage is something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth. The father told the son all that he had was his son’s, but wait. Didn’t he already divide the inheritance between the two boys? Yes he did. Watch this. God says, “I know I gave you your inheritance, but since you stayed and abideth with me, you didn’t even have to tap into yours. You could have placed a demand on me and used mines.” Somebody is confused by this statement, so I’ll say it another way. Can I give y’all the shout cue? “When your focus is aligned correctly and your heart is free from malice, envy, strife, and wicked thinking, all that I have is at your disposal.” You Missed It! Let’s try it this way. I believe most of the time, when we are questioning God concerning our situation and circumstances, we are so distracted by external factors. This person over here seems to be getting this and that. That person over there is always getting something too. We say stuff like, everybody around else seem to be moving in up in life except me. We even go so far as to say, “Lord knows they ain’t living right and doing right, but they seem to be on the come up.” I’m guilty of this too! I used to think like this, especially when someone close to me would get the stuff that I wanted. My God, that would just burn me up on the inside and sparks would start to fly. Before I knew it, I was reading their life before God. However, now I understand that if I would just keep my focus aligned and heart pure, then there is nothing that God will withhold from me. In other words, when my focus is properly aligned and my heart is pure, although I have resources of my own, I don’t have to use them. Why? God puts His resources up for my disposal and uses His wealth to supply my needs. All He is waiting for you and I to do is, Tap Into It! Be blessed and stay encouraged!