Loving the Lost – Seeing Unmerited Value - Wednesday, May 8th
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” Luke 15:8-10
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
Everyone wants to be “alright.” The usual course for achieving this involves pursing personal merit which we think will produce a sense of personal worth which in turn we think will produce a sense of personal well-being. This is an exercise in futility and self-deception. Having a sense of personal well-being that is properly hinged to a sense of personal worth is appropriate. However, if the pursuit of personal merit is in the equation, these things will never be what we think they are or want them to be. There isn’t a person who will ever walk the face of the earth who is not absolutely sinful, absolutely cut off from God, and therefore absolutely lost. This is our condition and when God’s provision in Christ for reversing this condition is made known and we believe, the degree to which we truly grasp our condition makes all the difference going forward in both our relationship to God and to the lost. To whatever degree our grasp of our condition is not complete, to that degree personal merit will taint our view of ourselves before God and our need for absolute dependence on Him as well as our view of ourselves before the lost and our need for compete humility. Our struggle with a spirit of independence in relationship to God and a spirit of superiority in relationship to the lost will be an ongoing dilemma for us. God looks out over the whole of His creation with a heart of love that is devoted to restoring us to Himself. Looking out and seeing that which is lost in the way God does is essential and this is precisely the lesson of today’s passage as seen in the woman’s words, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.”
We are valuable to God but there is nothing we have done or can do to merit our being valuable to Him. If a human parent valued his child only because he or she merited it we would be aghast. If our value to God was based on merit, then our value to Him would be reduced or would cease if we failed in any way to merit it. How wonderful it is to know that God loves us unconditionally and values us completely apart from all merit. He will never stop loving us or valuing us. How freeing it is to know we can be honest about our condition without fear of becoming less loved or valued by God. Similarly we are free to appropriate for ourselves God’s redemptive provision in Christ in a more full and complete way. In all actuality, it is this freedom that draws us more and more deeply into the wonderful experience of being loved and valued by God and makes it possible for us to increasingly relate to the lost in genuine humility and without a superior sense of ourselves. Our being lost is totally the result of the fact that we are trapped in the condition of having a sinful nature that cuts us off from God and makes us helpless to do anything about it. We may be less practiced than some in the sins of the flesh or even in the sins of the spirit, but that does not reduce the reality of our sinful condition and standing before God apart from the redemption provision of Christ.
This is where grace comes into play. By grace God finds us, redeems us, and restores us. The amazing love and value God bestows on each of us apart from all merit is what grace is all about. Seeing ourselves properly is the key to viewing the lost properly. How readily we slip into a wrong view of ourselves and a wrong view of the lost. Every person must be viewed as someone that God is seeking to find, redeem, and restore. We must not view anyone as beyond the reach of God’s grace nor must we ever believe that in some way we merited our having been reached by the grace of God. What an oxymoron! And yet, we do allow ourselves to have these tainted views and often they lead to ugly attitudes and behaviors that alienate us from the very ones God desires to reach by His grace. We must forsake such corruption and let God fill our hearts with love and mercy for the lost. The message is clear concerning our need to “look” at the lost the way God does. How to have it truly come about is another matter. Please meditate on the following verse and ask God to transform your life according to the realities that are contained within this wonderful statement. May our transformation translate into lost people experiencing the true grace of God who otherwise might not: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).”
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, thank you for the amazing love and value you have bestowed on me apart from anything I am or have to offer. Forgive me for thinking I deserved in anyway what you have freely bestowed on me. Help me to enter into the fullness of dependence that your gracious provision in Christ requires and help me as a result to be entirely free of any superior sense of myself. Thank you for redeeming me from my sinful condition which I was totally helpless to do anything about. Grant me a depth of humility that keeps merit out the equation for others just as surely as you keep it out of the equation for me. Amen!
Posted on Tue, May 8, 2018
by Ken Hart