Do you ever stop and think about the way we treat one another? How we hold grudges and harbor resentment towards others. How we judge, how we don’t want to forgive, how we are bitter and angry? What about patience? What if God had your patience? What if God had our short fuse?
What do I mean by all this? I mean, what if God had the same attitudes that we exhibit? How would you stand if God’s attitude reflected yours? I know that I would be up the creek without any hope of a paddle. I would be lost never to be found—dead never to be alive again.
It’s a scary thought to ponder isn’t it? What if God had our attitude? But, I have some excellent news: He doesn’t! But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalms 86:15). Unlike us, it takes A LOT to get God angry (and when you get Him that angry, you better look out). God is there, faithfully and lovingly waiting for us.
Read Luke 15:11-32, the story of the Prodigal Son. Here’s a classic example of how we are. The son asks for his inheritance early, basically saying, “dad, I wish you were dead,” and then goes off to a foreign country and blows it all on luxury, pleasure, and a good time. So after this, he runs out of money during a famine. He’s so desperate for food that he eats pig slop. He decides in his heart he will return home to his father. So he practices his speech and expects the wrath of his father. After he gets confident enough, he goes home.
He expects anger from his father, but that’s not what happens at all! The text says, “So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. ‘ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:20-24).
The father in this story represents God. The son, you. You, me, the guy next door…we’ve all done what this one son did. We’ve hurt our Father so deeply by our sin (Romans 3:23). We expect the worst from God, but what we often fail to see is that in our shame, in our weakness, in our deadness—God is right there—watching and waiting anxiously for our return. He runs to us. After all we do, God runs to us and gives us his best. He gives us eternal life, forgiveness of sin, and renewal in our dead hearts of stone.
We really need to understand the importance of what Paul said when he wrote, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you”
(Colossians 3:13). Our brothers and sisters will get on our nerves, hurt us, and make us mad. That is inevitable. But how we respond defines whether we are God’s child or not. Have the same attitude of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). Something to think about.