Prodigal Grace

Prodigal is often seen in a bad light as we see with the parable of the prodigal son.  We generally use the word to mean wasteful, which it generally is, but it also can and often does mean lavish.  As we read the story of the prodigal son, we see both the negative and the positive.  I am not sure why I have not ever seen the second and only the first before, but that’s how meditation tends to work.  When you think deeply on God’s Word you may in fact get more than you bargain for.  Of course, I say that knowing we must be careful not to make Scriptures say what they never intended to say in the first place.  I do not believe that my “discovery” does that at all.  If you read and disagree, by all means let me know (just do so respectfully).

Most of us will probably know the story of the prodigal son.  Jesus told the story of a son who asked his father for his share of his inheritance.  He couldn’t be bothered with waiting for his dear old dad to die, he wanted his money now.  Surprisingly his father gave it.  The son then went to town and painted it red as long as his money lasted, but when it ran out so did his supposed friends.  He was left penniless and without food.  He found a job feeding pigs–something no self-respecting Jew would do as they were unclean.  He got so hungry that he began to desire the slop the pigs ate.  Jesus said, “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger!  I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight.  I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.  Make me like one of your hired hands’,” (Luke 15:17-19, HCSB).

We generally use the word to mean wasteful, which it generally is, but it also can and often does mean lavish.  As we read the story of the prodigal son, we see both the negative and the positive.

That was the plan.  Go home, repent, ask to be a hired.  As he approached, his father ran to hug and kiss him, and as he began his prepared speech, the father ordered a ring, a robe, and a reception for him.  What I love is that the only part of the speech that was able to be stated was the repentance part: “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight.  I’m no longer worthy to be called your son’,” (Luke 15:21, HCSB).  There is no sign of working off the debt.  While there is repentance, there is no penitence.  There was only a feast to be had.  This is prodigal grace! It is lavish grace!

Most of us would want the person to “make up” for what they’ve done to us.  We want them to prove they’re sorry.  Saying it simply isn’t enough.  Most of us would see that ingrate walking up and think in our hearts, here he comes, crawling back because he squandered his money.  He’s just wanting to use me.  Guess I’m not so loathsome to you after all.  None of that is said or felt with the father in this story.  He is simply rejoicing and lavishing grace upon the son who was dead and is now alive.  No repayment needed.

While there is repentance, there is no penitence.  There was only a feast to be had.  This is prodigal grace! It is lavish grace!

So it is with God.  We are in debt to God beyond compare.  Forget about being in debt up to our eyeballs; we’re in debt into eternity.  No amount of good works can pay for what we have done.  God isn’t asking for that either.  He’s not asking or requiring penitence.  He isn’t requiring the sacrifice. “You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering.  The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.  God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart,” (Psalm 51:16-17, HCSB).  Notice that this was the posture of the prodigal son upon his return.  But also notice that the prodigal son didn’t stay in such a posture.  Though, surprised by the prodigal grace of the father, he readily accepted it, received the ring and robe, and joined in the celebration.

Yes, we’ve sinned. Yes, we should be ashamed of it and repent of it.  But then we should accept that we have a gracious God, not just a gracious God, but a God of prodigal grace.  Receive it and relish in it.  Rejoice and celebrate that sin is forgiven and the debt is no longer held against us, those who are in Christ Jesus.  “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1, HCSB).  However, if you are outside of Christ, you are currently outside of the celebration and so outside such prodigal grace, though invited if you will come.

Yes, we’ve sinned. Yes, we should be ashamed of it and repent of it.  But then we should accept that we have a gracious God, not just a gracious God, but a God of prodigal grace.  Receive it and relish in it.

Once again, I invite your comments.  I only ask you to be civil.  You can disagree with me and I will still publish your comments as long as they are respectful.  If you enjoyed the blog, please share it.

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