“‘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.” ~Luke 15:31-32
If you didn’t recognize the above passage, it’s from the parable of the prodigal son, which you can read here. But essentially, a father had two sons and gave them each an inheritance. One went off and squandered it, while the other stayed close to home and was a dutiful son. When the prodigal son found himself penniless, having gone through the entire inheritance, he went back home to his father. His father, rather than being upset with him, threw a feast in his honor. The above verse is the response the father gave when his obedient son asked why they were celebrating the other brother, when he himself was the one who’d done right by the father.
It’s also the response I gave recently, when someone asked me if I ever found it offensive that some people only became believers on their deathbeds. Here I was, living this life by a righteous and godly – and difficult! – standard. Meanwhile, someone else could live their whole life doing whatever they wanted, come to know Jesus at the very end, and be just as heaven-bound as I was. Didn’t I find this unfair?
Truth be told, no. I don’t. For so many reasons. One being that we store up treasures in heaven and I know I’ll have many waiting for me. Another being that getting ‘offended’ for not getting more credit for our obedience than the other guy is getting is a pride issue, and we aren’t supposed to have any pride in the first place. But the main reason is this parable.
This son was lost and now is found. That person on their deathbed was indeed headed to death, and now is headed to life. They were lost and now are found. That’s a cause to rejoice, not a cause to begrudge! It’s not about comparing ourselves with the other person. It’s not about us at all. It’s about them. They were lost. Now they’re not. And when ‘lost’ can send a person to hell….I’d much rather they come late to the party than not show up at all!
So check your hearts – and your egos. Comparing ourselves to one another has no place in our lives. Everyone’s heart is different, and there is room in God’s house for all of us. So get out of the mindset that we are ‘better’ for our obedience. Rejoice in the fact that we have a God who honors both our obedience and has mercy on disobedience – we know how often we’ve needed that mercy too! Rejoice in the fact that we have a God who is mighty to save, who can do a work in any heart. Rejoice in the fact that a lost heart can be found, and check with Him to see if you have a role to play in making that happen. Pray for the hearts that labor in darkness still, and rejoice in those who have found the light.