The story of the prodigal son is familiar to most people. It has been preached countless times and expounded upon in many ways. Most focus on the passage in light of a salvation account, but the purpose of the parable was in response to the Scribes and Pharisees’ accusation of Jesus receiving sinners (vs. 2). It is another story revealing the compassionate heart of God towards sinners who come to him. From the qualities displayed by the father in the parable, we can measure our heart for compassion towards those that God loves.
While the son was off at a distant land wasting his life, the father did not go after him and try to deliver him from the circumstances in life that the son brought upon himself. If we have compassion, we will not enable other people in their sin by trying to remove their consequences to protect us from shame or embarrassment. By doing this, we, with compassion, are more concerned about them than ourselves.
Compassion will cause you to desire the fallen to come back to the Lord. It is my belief that the father saw the son a great way off because he continually desired and looked for the day that he would return. When we have compassion, we will see people who are far away from The Lord and our hearts will be moved with the desire that they would return. When the son returned, he was not questioned by the father about where he had been and what he had done. He was received with gladness. When sinners return, we too out of compassion will leap at the opportunity to receive them without asking questions (vs. 20).
As a musician is compelled to play music because of what is inside of him, compassionate people cannot hold back compassion, but must show it. They, from compassion, will celebrate the victories of restored (vs. 20) and bring others into the rejoicing (vs. 22-23). From there, they invite the them back into fellowship and will lead others to do the same.
They accomplish all this by one means: they focus on the person and not the sin. This quality is missing in so many circles of our faith. Compassion is the manifestation of love that Jesus said would be the means by which all men shall know that we are his disciples. What do the lost need from us? Compassion. What do people in the church need from us? Compassion. What do you and I need from others? Compassion.
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: (1Peter 3:8)
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