Monday, July 7, 2008

Lavish Compassion

“So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.”

Luke 15:20 (HCSB)

Being a prodigal means you’re wastefully extravagant. Look up the word in the dictionary and you’re likely to see a picture of the prodigal son sitting in the mud sharing a meal with pigs – the four-legged kind. He’s dining with swine because he’s blown through his entire inheritance and only has some tattered clothes to show for it.

Yet, the older brother in the story argues that the father is the real prodigal. He complains that his father is being wastefully extravagant with his inconsiderate little brother. You can imagine what he might be thinking:

“First, this boy takes off with his inheritance, showing no concern for the family; then, when he comes back flat broke and smelling like a pig, our father starts giving him even more – like the best robe, a ring restoring his status as son, and now…Can you hear them? The old man is throwing the biggest bash of the year for my irresponsible little brother!”

What does this mean?

· The younger brother squandered God’s compassion – He asked for his inheritance, and then, “Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living.” (Luke 15:13, HCSB)

· Give some honest thought to how you might be squandering God’s compassion. Ask God to show you any areas, and as you confess them, receive his compassionate forgiveness.

· The older brother resented God’s compassion – When his father sought him out and asked him to come join the celebration, “The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’” (Luke 15:29-30, MSG)

· Is there a part of you that resents God giving compassion to someone else, perhaps someone who’s hurt you deeply, or someone who you see squandering his/her life? This is a painful question to answer honestly, but it is important for your spiritual growth. Give you resentment to God, receive his compassion, and then ask him to give you a godly compassion for those people.

· The father lavished God’s compassion – Without even waiting for the prodigal to finish his prepared-in-a-pigsty speech, the boy’s father responded with lavish, extravagant compassion: “The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’ But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.’” (Luke 15:21-22, MSG, italics added)

· From the older brother’s point of view, their father was being wastefully extravagant by giving even more to the youngest son, who, no doubt in the older brother’s mind, would just waste more. But the father was compelled by God’s compassion, not reacting to the sins of the youngest son.....Rick Warren