As I write today, everything is finally back in order in my home, for the moment anyway, from the unfair situation that occurred 3 weeks and 3 days ago when a young woman ran a stop sign. I have never before experienced the mess and tangle of unfair issues that one deals with trying to balance the insurance company, rental car, and repairs. However, I can now fully appreciate what others go through. That is the way of life, isn’t it? It is often difficult to understand the situations of others unless we have been through them or seen things from their perspective.
Our response to the world of unfair things seems to stem fully on our viewpoint. Take for instance the parable of the prodigal son, the view we take often depends on our own experiences and the character we identify with. Maybe you see the unfair situation of the younger brother with receiving an inheritance of only one-third. It’s not like he had any control over his birth order. But perhaps you more quickly identify with the older brother. He worked hard and did everything as expected by his father yet felt he received no praise. However, his brother who took off for the high life, wasted his money, and then came dragging back home was celebrated when he returned. It is all so unfair, but the degree of that unfairness depends on our own experiences and viewpoints.
What about the Fatted Calf?
Have you ever thought about the fatted calf’s viewpoint? Well, 8-year-old Johnny did. His Sunday school class was studying the story of the Prodigal Son and his teacher had just finished emphasizing the resentment the older brother expressed at the return of his younger brother. The teacher asked the class, “Now who was really upset and sad that the prodigal son had come home?” The room was silent and then Johnny raised his hand and confidently with thought stated, “The fatted calf!” Talk about unfair, Johnny makes a good point.
Whether you identify with the younger brother, the older brother, or even the fatted calf, it is clear that life in our fallen world is not fair. Jesus finishes the story, but in a way, He doesn’t. We really don’t know what happens down the road, except for the demise of the poor fatted calf. Did the younger brother turn his life around and take responsibility for his mistakes? Perhaps he reconciled with his older brother and made amends. Maybe the older brother wouldn’t forgive the younger one and refused to come to all family gatherings. We don’t know but Jesus makes the point that life experiences in our broken world are unfair but if we allow the unfairness of it to keep us from forgiveness then we lose out to the Father’s great love.
Is Forgiveness Unfair?
God’s great love reaches out continuously to find those who are lost or those who lose their way. The story of the prodigal son gives an overview of how forgiveness works no matter whose perspective you identify with. When we get caught up with the attitude of “that’s not fair” it can quickly mushroom and take over our life, paralyzing us from moving forward because we latch onto the bitterness and unfairness of it all. Thankfully we can take a lesson in forgiveness from God.
There is a story about a woman who upset her pastor because she claimed she had conversations with God. There was quite an attraction of followers from the church and so everyday people gathered at her house. They got on their knees, prayed, sang, and listened to her describe what God was saying to her. The pastor decided that the claims were getting out of hand, so he went to visit her. “I know you claim you are talking with God,” he said, “but what you hear talking back at you is just your imagination. So, to prove this, I want you to ask God to name three of the sins that I confessed this morning and tell me what God said. If you can name those sins, I’ll believe you are really talking to God.” The woman sat there for a long while, praying. Then she looks up and said, “I asked God to name your three sins, but God said, ‘I forgot.’”
Forgiveness = Joy Opportunities
We, as humans, may not forget what others have done to us or how they made us feel, but we should not allow anything to keep us from forgiving them. For if we refuse to forgive and continue to hold onto whatever they did or how we feel against them, it will control us. But by forgiving we will experience the opportunity for joy. And this joy will so overcome us that we can do nothing less than to share it with others.
“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.’”Luke 15:31 (NLT)
Because of life circumstances, I have had my own personal unfair situations and battles with forgiveness. One of the most important things, I have learned over the years is that everyone wins when all come to God. By not allowing resentments to grow and live within you the love of Christ is found. Furthermore, the joy granted by God grows with gratitude and forgiveness, no matter the hurt experienced by others. The act of forgiveness is simple compared to the invasive bitterness that can plague you forever if allowed to fester. The father in the story of the Prodigal Son forgave because he was filled with love. Our Father, God, forgives because He is love.
Challenge Your Perspective
No matter whose perspective you take in the story or in life it is important to accept life and move on not allowing the unfair things or unfairness of it all to keep you from rejoicing when others come to know God, even those who hurt you. For it is important to recognize that if we as believers can’t do that then we are no better than those that harm us because they don’t know the Lord.
Won’t you challenge yourself to forgive those who hurt you with words or deeds? Celebrate with rejoicing when all come to know Christ no matter what unfair thing they may have done or said. Find your conviction with the great love granted to you from Christ who experienced personally the most unfair thing anyone has ever done to grant you undeserving eternal life. Be motivated in knowing that everyone wins when all come to God. Surround yourself in the comfort of knowing that no matter what character you identify with, God loves and accepts all who simply come to Him.
Love in Christ,
You never depart from us, but yet, only with difficulties do we return to You.Saint Augustine
What are Your Thoughts?
Do you identify with the younger brother, older brother, or the fatted calf? Have you experienced the freedom of forgiveness or do you struggle to forgive? Share your thoughts on the unfair things of life and the freeing joy that results from forgiveness.