by Barry Newton
A father had two sons, both of whom had brought disgrace upon the family. Tension plagued their familial relationship. One day the father privately called each son to join him at the kitchen table because he wanted to share with them a wonderful gift.
When each son arrived, the father began by recounting how that son’s choices had frayed their relationship. Then, just as his son’s eyes would begin to roll with “I’ve heard this all before,” the father said, “I am freeing you from accusation. No longer will I hold something against you. I love you and I want our relationship to be restored.”
Upon hearing this, the first son smiled slightly as he felt a tremendous burden lifted. He had been set free. No longer would he be viewed as a disappointing son. In view of this precious gift he had received, he resolved to honor his father by conforming to those attitudes and activities that would please his father.
When the second son received the father’s gift, he too smiled and felt the same tremendous burden being sloughed off. With a renewed sense of freedom, he proclaimed how much he loved his father for this undeserved gift.
Unlike his brother, however, he focused on doing whatever pleased himself. Even regarding areas where his father’s wishes were known, he would pursue what seemed best in his own thinking. His standard response to all queries was, “this does not matter; grace covers it.”
Which son understood grace?
Does grace transform what was previously unacceptable to God into suddenly becoming divinely approved?
Does grace cause us to conform to an acceptable standard?
How will a person or a congregation of people, who have not first picked up their crosses in order to serve God’s will, use a concept like “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus?”
“For the grace of God which brings salvation … teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and world passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12).
by Barry Newton