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March 20, 2024 | Daily Devotionals | March 20

Refusing the Bitterness Pill 


“My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”  Luke 15:31-32


A lot of us can relate to the frustrations of the “other son” in the parable of the Prodigal Son. The one who dutifully finished all his Hebrew lessons, listened to his parents, followed the rules. You know, the good son. Then there’s his brother—the black sheep of the family. Always screwing around, going places he shouldn’t and doing things that aren’t good for him. When the bad brother takes off he takes his portion of the inheritance and does the equivalent of a long bender in Vegas—gambling, strip clubs, drinking, the whole nine yards. 


And yeah, it’s a bit annoying when the prodigal brother gets all the attention when he comes home. I mean, it doesn’t seem fair, does it? The kid just blew through a lot of cheddar, and now he comes crawling back home? And he says, “Dad, let me just work for free as a slave.” And you think, That sounds about right—at least until he proves he’s really a changed person. 


But nope. Dad goes, “Forget that nonsense—you were once lost and now you are found. Break out the Wagyu steaks, invite all your friends over—we are having a party!” It just doesn’t make sense. Right? I mean—and here’s the killer: It’s just not fair


But when it comes to God’s grace, it doesn’t seem fair as the world defines fairness. The condemned receive reprieve. The least of these become the greatest in His Kingdom. The worst sinners become His right-hand workers (e.g., Mary Magdalene). I always think of this when I read about the repentant thief on the cross. This dude has done something so bad that it got him crucified. But what does Jesus do? He says, “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43) No baptism. No newcomer’s course. Just instant, saving grace.


So is the Gospel unfair? Definitely not. God clearly lays out our options: Embrace His Son Jesus as our Lord and Savior, or spend eternity apart from Him. But grace—that utterly amazing thing that defies logic—does not seem fair to those keeping score. When we keep score of who’s performing better or worse, we judge as the world judges. And when people are treated better than our own internal scoring system, bitterness creeps in. Like with the “good brother” in the story. 


God’s man refuses the bitterness pill and chooses to see God’s grace for what it is: an audacious gift that’s sometimes baffling, other times surprising, but always brilliant. 


Father, I don’t want to grow old and bitter. Refresh me with your grace and a better acceptance of others.

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