22 But the father said to his servants, “Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And they began to celebrate. – Luke 15:22-24
The father in this story knew how to celebrate! Instead of joining in this vision, many times I find myself feeling like the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son — doing what is expected, not feeling appreciated, and resentful when others who commit “obvious” sins fall astray and then are rewarded. I am struck by the father’s reaction to his son who returned home. He did not criticize, yell at him, try to tell him what he did wrong — instead he loved him. That is how I would hope we each would react if we had a similar situation with one of our children. But guess what? We do not have to “hope” that God will treat us this way. He already does! Romans 5:8 tells us that He loved us while we were yet sinners and Jesus died for all of us sinners. We are all called to celebrate — not judge!
An area of growth for me is to not find fault with others or to feel self-righteous and judge others. Instead, in humility, I need to recognize that this is pride, a sin, that I repent of, and that God loves each of us and we are called to reach out to those who do not know Him. I need to not see my sins as “lesser” than others. I also need to remember the words in Galatians 6:9: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Lord, help me to recognize my own sins, and in humility to celebrate when others are “brought home” to knowing you. Let me be as loving to others as you are to us, and as celebratory as the father in the story of the prodigal son. Thank you for loving us, and sending us your son. In Jesus’ name, amen.
About Holly Banner
Holly is one of the Lay Delegates for the Annual Conference. She and Rich have three children and have been members of STUMC for 24 years.