“In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away.” (Luke 15)
There is more joy over one sinner who repents! The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one of my favorite stories during the Easter season. It explains God's joy at the repentance of a lost and wayward son, and also illustrates the cold and unforgiving heart of the older son, who out of anger and jealousy represents the Pharisees who were angry and resentful that sinners were being welcomed into God’s kingdom. It is a wonderful story that Jesus told explaining how God rejoices over each person who repents, and so should we. If God’s response is full of compassion and mercy towards the wayward and sinful, then so must we nurture His attitude toward the lost around us! As disciples, we must not be proud, hypocritical, or self-righteous like the Pharisees, but instead we should seek out those who are wandering and give them hope. We should help God search, and be an ambassador of irresistible love. I think every one of us has at least just a bit of the Pharisees in us. We fear that we may lose control over our safe and happy life for the sake of valuing others the way God values them. But God's priority is on people and on their salvation; He places a high value on all of His lost treasures.
“Don't you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Or don't you care? Can't you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin?” (Romans 2:4)
God's idea of human devotion is not sinless perfection or self-righteousness, its utter dependence on Him. “The World's idea of righteousness is self-righteous perfection. God's idea of righteousness is the pitiful, hopeless, lost, humble, loving sinful sinner who knows he needs God!” (Unknown) The parable of the prodigal son also shows the attitude of the self-righteous sinner. We all require God’s grace, His unearned, unmerited love for us. And our God runs to us, throws His arms around us and gives us a hope for a future beyond all expectations! I love the thought that He never gives up on me and that in His kindness He holds back judgment and gives me time to turn from my sin. He loves all of His children enough to make a way for them to come back to Him even after they have left Him and done everything He had ever told them not to do. What a wonderful picture of the great love God had towards us! He continuously seeks and reaches out to us. When we come to Him, He washes away all our evil deeds of the past, not holding them against us.
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” (C.W. Lewis)