We think we know God’s grace…but do we?
One of the more famous stories that Jesus told is one that is commonly known as the prodigal son story. If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with it. If you’re not familiar with it, that’s ok…take 5 minutes and read Luke 15:11-32. In fact, even if you are familiar with it, take 5 minutes and read it too.
The story is actually about two sons, the younger brother and the older brother. Both sons give us incredible insight as to how we can miss the intimacy of the Father. However, for this post, I want to just briefly touch on some aspects of the younger son’s story. (By the way, if you’re interested in reading an excellent discourse of this passage, do yourself a favor and read Tim Keller’s “The Prodigal God”…you’ll be glad you did.)
So, the younger son thinks he knows better than his father. He deeply offends his father by asking for his inheritance prematurely (before his father’s death…essentially communicating to his father that he wishes he were already dead so he could get his stuff and do what he wants with his life). He blows his inheritance and ends up trying to make ends in meet while working in pig excrement. Nice.
He runs back home to father and astonishingly the father graciously embraces him and receives him back as his son. The father doesn’t even ask for an explanation! And even more astonishingly, the father doesn’t banish or punish his son but rather he throws him a party fit for a king!
Now, here’s the question I want us to consider: what if the younger son did it all over again? What if the son stayed home for a while and then decided to jettison his father again and bolt in rebellion like before? How many times could the son run away and offend his father before the father would stop receiving him back?
From a human perspective, there’s a limit to our grace. We’re often fine with forgiving and extending grace to someone who’s hurt us. We may even extend grace and forgiveness to someone two or three times over. But at some point we say enough is enough. Our grace has its limits. God’s doesn’t.
If we could out-sin God’s grace then we’d all be in trouble. God receives our wayward hearts over and over and over again. Almost daily we decide to jettison God for what we think is better. We decide that something the world offers our soul is more satisfying than intimacy with Him. We delight in the fleeting pleasures of sin even though our hearts and minds know the all-satisfying joy that only Jesus provides. And over and over and over again the Father, with his unthinkable grace, forgives, receives, and rejoices over our repentant return.
One of the great pleasures of life now and life eternal is that we get the privilege of mining the cavernous and limitless depths of God’s grace toward sinners. And the beauty of His grace is that as we experience it more…as we taste of his sweet forgiveness…we want to leave his presence less. God’s grace doesn’t lead us to more abuse of His grace…God’s grace leads us to love the intimate presence of God that his grace provides.