Humble yourselves before the Lord,
and he will lift you up in honor.
Men do not like to receive. We like to be the giver. We like to earn everything that we receive. Unfortunately – with that stance of pride – that attitude can get in the way of receiving the Father’s love.
Jesus tried to give a true picture of our heavenly Father’s love by telling a story of a father and his two sons (see Luke 14:11-32). Both of the sons – even though so different – had to learn the same lesson – how to humble themselves and receive their father’s freely offered love.
The younger son in Jesus’ story was rebellious. He lived in the lap of luxury growing up. When he came of age he took his inheritance and hit the road. He spent everything his father had given him on the very things that broke his father’s heart.
When he was out of money and his “friends” had abandoned him – he found himself living in a pigsty. When he finally admitted his pitiful situation he decided to humbly go home. He hoped he could come crawling back to his dad and at least get decent meals working as his servant. He rehearsed his speech all the way home – ashamed about his behavior and no doubt nervous about how his father would receive him.
When he was still a long way off his father ran to him and embraced him – an action I am sure surprised Jesus’ listeners. The father hugged his son and kissed him and wouldn’t even let him finish his prepared speech. Instead, he told his servants to prepare for a celebration! He put a robe on his son’s shoulders – placed the family signet ring on his hand and fully reinstated him to his place in the home. All the young man had to do was receive the love that his father so freely offered.
The older brother had a different problem – he was performance-oriented. He had spent his whole life trying to earn his father’s love. That is why he grew baffled, jealous and angry at his father’s surprising response to his younger brother.
“But Dad,” he objected, “I stayed here – worked the land and brought in the crops. I have served you and performed for you my whole life – but you never gave me a party like this!”
His father tried to explain that all either of his sons had to do was receive what had always been there for them. The older son missed the father’s love because he was too busy ticking off on his checklist the things he thought he had to do to earn it. When he saw his father freely giving his love to his rebellious brother he became confused.
We can be like either of these sons. We may stay away from the heavenly Father because we are ashamed of how we have disappointed him. We may feel that we have broken every commandment God ever etched in stone. Or we may keep our distance – missing it completely – because we are too busy “doing” – trying to earn His love. Both of the brothers in Jesus’ story had to humble themselves if there were to receive the father’s love … and so must we.
God wants all men – those who perform well – those who may not – to know that His love is a gift – it is free.
God saved you by his grace when you believed.
And you can’t take credit for this;
it is a gift from God.
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done,
so none of us can boast about it.
EPHESIANS 2:8-9 (NLT)
There is nothing we can do to earn it and there is nothing we can do that will disappoint our Father in heaven so much that He will withhold it. God’s love is there for the taking to all who will receive it. But it must be as freely received as it so freely offered. That is the only way. And I am so glad it is! Remember …
… indeed, nothing in all creation
will ever be able to separate us from the love of God
that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
ROMANS 8:39 (NLT)
On the journey with you,