Lately I've been thinking a lot on God's goodness and grace. Just this morning I was reading Luke 15:11-33, the story of the Prodigal Son. In my life today, I never cease to be moved as I read the words of the 20th verse:
So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
I'm like the prodigal. There have been times in my life I have chosen to not walk along with God, times I have chosen to sin and do things my own way. Yet when I return to God, He has had compassion on my brokenness (caused by my own sin, just like the prodigal experienced) and welcomes me.
I can remember a time in my life when I was like the prodigal's brother that we see in verses 22-33 (NIV):
The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"
I can remember when I was young and basically untested by life and thought I had all the answers. When I tried so hard to live so perfect. Back in those days I not only did not understand the grace of God, but I never allowed myself to experience His love and grace. When I read this story back then I knew I related more to the older brother. I felt like I was out there slaving away to be so good and perfect. In my unhealthy family of origin my 2 older siblings were so messed up, and my parents so dysfunctional, that my rigid role was always to be the perfect one (and, although I wasn't really aware of it, in my heart I resented it). But through all those years God was always there, waiting for me to come to Him, waiting for me to recognize that as His child, there was so much that was already mine if I would have just chosen to live in Him.
Since then life has brought hardships and I've tasted failures aplenty. But, I've also been able to taste God's forgiveness, to experience His love.I've found an awesome principle to operate: The more I receive and experience God's love, the more I naturally respond differently to other people. Instead of feeling grateful for all He's done and wanting to go out and do great stuff for Him, I want to spend time with Him, in His presence and His Word. I find that the more that is my focus, the more loving I am toward the people around me, the less I struggle with my natural inclination toward selfishness, the more I enjoy serving people around me.
God has been so over the top more than generous with me; I don't want to live my life just being fair, I want to go out of my way to be generous to others.
What are some opportunities you've had lately to be generous?