Once we are effective in the first, we are in a position to be effective in the second. Once we know Him, we begin to share His value system. God values people! People are eternal! Look around you, your spouse, your children, your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors; those people are the only thing of eternal value in this world. The people all around you will spend eternity somewhere – for God so loved people that He gave His only begotten Son so that they should not perish but have everlasting life.
The Pharisees didn’t value people. In fact, in Luke 15, Jesus uses three parables to teach them what counts: the Lost Sheep 15:3-7; the Lost Coin 15:8-10; the Lost Son 15:11-32. In each of these three parables, something valuable was lost that mattered a whole lot to the one who lost it, and upon finding it, there was a great celebration. In each case, God communicates the great value and the great rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who is found – 15:7, 10 & 24.
The brother of the prodigal son was exhibiting the Pharisees’ attitude, “he was angry…” – 15:28, he thought life was about him – 15:29-30. Religion often traps a person into self-righteous living. Legalism always leads to being critical of people rather than loving people where they are at and helping them to the next level. For instance, I’ve read of a man who has sworn off going to church on Easter because – “I can’t stand all those oncers. You know, all those people who only come around once a year. They get themselves all dressed up to make their appearance, and then they mess everything up at my church, especially the parking lot. This has bothered me so much over the years that I quit going to church on Easter Sunday. I have no use for the ‘oncers.’”
Can you see how dangerous this type of thinking is?
Let’s always remember – it’s not about us! God redeems us, makes us new creatures in Christ, gifts us and sends us out into the world to live a life focused on others, not ourselves. It’s about God first and others second! Joy is to be found in Jesus, Others, You.