Monday, June 3, 2013

Ingredient #10 - Protection - (Love - Part 12)

The story of the prodigal son is an interesting one.  There are three main characters - the rebellious son, who has to be humbled before he recognizes just how much he is loved; the older, responsible brother who believes his standing in the home is based on his obedience; and the father who shows us unconditional love to both.  I want us to look at the father for a moment today.

From our human standpoint, the youngest son irresponsibly and disrespectfully runs off with his inheritance and blows it on wild living.  When he returns, in our opinion he should be either turned away at the door or at the very best put with the servants and forced to earn his way through life. He had his chance and he blew it.

But this is not what is shown to us.  The father chooses to bear his son's burden and welcomes him back into the home as his heir.  He wraps his arms around him and spares no expense in celebrating the return of the prodigal.  He protects the younger when discussing it with the older - he doesn't berate, judge or gossip. He chooses to forgive.

Our next ingredient is a part of the forgiveness family - I'm going to call it protection.  Love is protective.  When love chooses to forgive, it chooses to bear the consequence of the other's sin by setting it aside and restoring the relationship.  Let me give you a great illustration - Jesus.

There is a price for sin and Jesus didn't just erase the debt, He paid it.  He didn't just say, "Well, I'm God and I can do what I want, so I will just wipe your slate clean."  He paid the high price Himself and then wrote "Paid in full" on the ledger. Jesus bore it all.

When there is an offense, either the offender pays the price or someone else does.  Either there is loss of relationship because of the offense, or in the restoration process, the one who was hurt lays down their right to get even and restores the relationship. If that happens, that person is bearing the offense - he is taking upon himself the weight of the offense and removing it from the offender.  He is agreeing not to hold it against them, not to talk to others about it and not to talk to himself about it - that's true forgiveness (remember ingredient #8?).

In I Corinthians 13, Paul tells us that love bears all things - love is a great forgiver.  It's protective of others. Love doesn't hang someone out to dry, but protects the object of its affections.  When there is an offense, not only does it forgive but it does whatever is necessary to protect the offender from others finding out, from the consequences - love chooses to bear the consequences for the offender...remember, again, Jesus...

Notice the word "all."  It's one of those 100% words.  Love doesn't choose what it will bear and what it won't.  It is completely consistent.  Because Jesus bore it all, we are able to bear all things.  Can you see it?

We are getting to the end of our ingredient list...the sweet smelling aroma of love should be filling your home pretty soon.  Add some more water to your pot and let it continue to simmer but soon, this reduction sauce is going to quickly become the savory gravy that tastes like liquid me on this one...

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