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Looking at the parable of the prodigal son, I so easily see only the grateful father running to meet and greet his prodigal, dirty, dishevelled son. But the part of the parable that sometimes confronts me personally is seeing this same dignified father going out of his way to invite his older son (daughter) to the feast – this smug, sulking son (daughter).

God’s love for me encompasses much more than providing a nice warm bath and a set of clean clothes when I had found myself in the pigsty of sin. He actually comes looking for me when I am wallowing in indignant self-righteousness and accompanies me to join the festivities. Here I can join in celebrating the wonder of his love that reaches out to us in our need and once again invite us into his presence.

If only I could always keep in mind that my security and self-worth do not depend on my achievements and my impeccable life, but on the undeserved love of God. Then, when I’ve recognised and experienced God’s grace, I’m able to share it with others. When I am filled with the Holy Spirit, consciously placing my whole life under his control on a daily basis, I can be truly pure, patient, kind, honest and loving. Then I will be able to join the feast without me being the centre of attention – freely and joyfully. I’m sharing in my Father’s joy after all.

Instead of getting stuck in my own jealousy and discontent, I could rather work at developing a passion for sharing the indescribable privilege of God’s love, peace, favour and his incomparable presence with others. I just have to guard against letting my selfcentredness taking over.

It was humbling to learn that I’m not ineffective in God’s service only when I’m caught up in flagrant sin – it also happens when I confuse my own preconceived ideas with God’s. When He, in his immeasurable grace, chooses to save someone with “more” sin than me, and use them mightily, I have to be as gratefully happy as if He has called me for a special task.


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