It’s easy to blame the wayward sheep for getting lost. Many of us have said “serves you right” when someone ‘less holy’ got into trouble because of their sins. But does Jesus ever rejoice when that happens? Of course not! We see how He protected the Adulterous Woman who was going to be stoned to death as a consequence of her sin. I wonder why Jesus did not accuse her as harshly as the Pharisees. Why was He so forgiving?
I heard this sermon the other day by Christie Caine on why people get lost, and why we shouldn’t be too hard on ‘unbelievers’ and bad people. And I think this is probably why Jesus was not so hard on the Adulterous Woman and other sinners He encountered. Hopefully we can learn to be less critical and more forgiving and supportive to those less ‘holy’.
They may have gotten lost by being preoccupied: The parable of the lost sheep comes into relevance here. The sheep may have wandered away from the flock because it was preoccupied with looking out for tasty grass. It may have carried on eating the grass that it did not realise when the others walked on, leaving it alone. And so often we get lost because we are so preoccupied with life; with our career or family, that everything else even our spiritual lives, seems less important. Before long, we find out how sad and miserable we are because we spent our time and efforts on things that do not really satisfy.
Someone may have been careless with them: In the parable of the lost coin, the lady who owned the coins was careless and one of them got lost. In the same way, some people get ‘lost’ because someone who was responsible for taking care of them got careless with them. I think of parents who have failed in their responsibilities and have inadvertently caused their children to wander astray because they were busy chasing material things or speaking/acting negatively.
They made poor choices: Just like the lost or prodigal son, some people made poor choices that got them into trouble. They never realised how low they would sink or how disastrous the consequences would be. When the prodigal son made the decision to leave home, he never thought he would eventually be eating from a pig’s trough. He never envisaged how horribly it would all end up. He must have thought he was going to have a good time, see the world, make friends, live life. And so often in our world, people make decisions that at the time seemed harmless. But sadly they wind up pretty worse off and struggling with addictions and misery.
What the Lost need is not judgement, but love. We should always remember "but forgrace, there goes I". None of us is better than anyone, the reason why we look ‘better’ is because of grace. Let’s not be too quick to condemn or criticize harshly. The worst sinner can become a great man/woman of God by grace.
Rahab was a prostitute, but because she demonstrated faith in the God of Israel, it pleased God to make her one of the ancestors of King David and of Jesus Christ. God can use anyone, don’t despise that ‘lost’ brother or sister.
So I urge you, when next you seem keen to harshly criticize someone who is misbehaving, remember you are better by grace alone. It could so easily have been you. Correct and admonish in love not from superiority and see them with the eyes of Jesus.
May God teach us to truly love each other, amen.
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