Sunday, March 7, 2010

Luke 15 - Duty or Delight?

by Becky

LINK:
Luke 15

BACKGROUND

In Luke 14 we saw warnings to the proud; in this chapter we have a series of three parables (stories with a spiritual meaning) in which Jesus answers the Pharisees' complaints that He welcomed sinners and ate with them. In these parables we see illustrations of how much the LORD loves those who are lost. The stories rebuked the Pharisees for their selfishness and pride. More than anything, though, they show us God's great love and mercy.

Only the parable of the lost sheep is found in another gospel (Matthew 18:12-14). The parables of the lost coin and the two sons are unique to Luke.

Please read them!

REFLECTION


These parables show us God's love. If we ever doubt that we are loved, that each of us matters to the LORD, this is the place to go to get set straight.

The last parable in this chapter is often called "The Prodigal Son." It seems to me that it's really about two sons, each of whom had trouble understanding just what it meant to be a son who had been given his father's possessions.

One son left. He foolishly valued immediate pleasure over a relationship with his father. When he found himself without resources in a famine in a foreign land, he came to his senses. He headed home to humbly ask his father for a job, realizing he didn't deserve to be called a son.

The other son stayed at home and worked, but he, too, didn't understand. His perspective was that of a slave, not a son. He was performing tasks out of duty, not for love. He had ALL of the resources of his father, but didn't seem to understand that. He had reduced a relationship of lavish love into a list of duties and "do's and don'ts." It was all about what he had done, not who he was and what he'd been given. That's why he couldn't celebrate his brother's return and forgiveness.

Both sons were selfish and self-centered. But the younger son came to his senses and realized that he'd traded something of great worth for something that was ultimately worthless. The older son still thought that his "sonship" was based on what he gave rather than on what he'd been given. How sad.

APPLICATION

Jesus told this parable to the Pharisees, but not many of them got it.

It's very easy to slip into the attitude of the older son - trading delight for duty. There the son was, given all that his father had, but willing to eke out his life in measured tasks. It was all about how much he did, about how well he did it. That's why he couldn't celebrate his brother's return! He didn't see that he had everything! He had his father's love and possessions. He was short sighted and though he thought he was doing what was right, his attitude was that of pride and self-centeredness.

Which son are you more like?

I confess that I am often like the older son. I often see my relationship with the LORD as one of duty, rather than delighting that I'm loved and that He has blessed me with ALL of His good gifts. I live as a slave rather than a daughter. I think that there are times when as a daughter I will obey from duty, but behind that dutiful obedience is the understanding that I am loved and that I have been given everything by my Father. I am not earning His love by what I do.

Do you understand how much you are loved by your Father? Are you living as a child of grace or as a slave under law?

And please, if you have questions, say so! I write these posts with some fear. God's word is what is true. My words are only my insights and thoughts.

PRAYER

Dear Father, thank you for illustrating for us in this chapter your great love and mercy. Help us not to trade away that love for what is worthless - for either the pleasures of this life or for the pride of what we do. Keep us from the errors of both the younger son and the older son in this parable.
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