This is the fourth in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on GRACE, which is the theme of the 2012 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.Grace stoops.God’s grace has stooped to reach us.“We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” (Romans 5:7-8,MSG)Do you realize how far God had to stoop to pour out His grace on us?…from heaven to earth…from deity to humanity,…from holiness to depravity.Chuck Swindoll reminds us:Don’t miss the absence of conditions in the Romans passage above. God didn’t look down and say, “When those scoundrels show the least bit of interest in cleaning up their act, then I’ll meet them more than half way.” No, while we were sinning and loving it, the Father stooped and extended supreme grace in the person of His Son. He didn’t ignore our sin. He didn’t excuse our sin. He looked past our sin and accepted us in spite of it. And so? Let’s go there on behalf of others. Embrace others in spite of how unworthy or how unlovely they are to you. (From “It's Time to Embrace Grace by Embracing the Unlovely”)
When do we say "Stop!"
Of course, we can feel that our prodigals are unworthy, and their behavior is surely unlovely. After all, we have endured, waited, encouraged, helped, pleaded, wept. At some point do we say, “Stop. No more grace.”?Not unless we are better than God. He extends unending grace. He loves us and accepts us and keeps His welcoming arms open to our return.But what about consequences? What about standards in our home? What about safety for our family? What about requiring responsibility. Yes, all needful and appropriate. But grace is still possible.Swindoll adds: No one expects you to excuse the sin of the unlovely, nor should you become their doormat. Extending grace doesn’t send the message that you approve of their behavior. And don’t fall into the trap of fearing that grace enables people in their sin. In fact, grace brings conviction to the heart of the sinner much more quickly than a rebuke.
How do you extend grace to a rebellious prodigal?
So how do you extend grace to a rebellious, unappreciative prodigal? Perhaps there will be a major opportunity—like a repentant request to return home. But most often it will be in little things—doing the unexpected favor, returning a curse with a blessing, taking them out to dinner, sending a note….When Josh was still a minor living at home and would do something aggravating, I would do his laundry for him. That was his responsibility, but I would say, as I put each piece in the washing machine, “I choose to bless you, not curse you.” I don’t know if he was grateful for that grace, but it did wonders for me.Bill Bright provided an amazing model for me in giving grace. When a Christian leader would fall because of some immorality, most of the body of Christ would criticize, judge, reject, condemn. But Dr. Bright would always be one of the first to call, to pray for, to listen to…to extend grace.Can we stoop to give grace to our loved ones?What about you? What one act of grace could you do for your prodigal?c2012 Judy DouglassIf you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation.