As I think about the concept of kindness and giving grace to others, my thoughts quickly go to one of my favorite Bible stories – the story of the prodigal son. In Luke 15, we find the account of a young man who came to his father and asked for his inheritance (not something he earned or worked for) and left for a far-away country. It doesn’t convey through the scriptures that the father gave him a speech before he left to “be responsible,” or “spend your money wisely.” We know from reading it that the father gave his son his inheritance.
Luke tells us that the prodigal returns home, penniless, hungry and looking for work. He had nothing to offer his father except himself. The father could have ordered a “proving period” for the son to work on the land and prove himself worthy of even being a son again. The father could have shunned him and not ever spoken to him again because “that will teach him a lesson”.
This is what we do know from Luke 15:20, “…the father was filled with compassion, ran and embraced him, and kissed him.”
Before the father knew anything about where his son had been, or what he had done, or even if he was repentant, the father was filled with compassion, ran and embraced him, and kissed him.
Why did he do this? Because this was his son and nothing could change that. The father shows us that he wasn’t ashamed of his son, and not afraid of what he had done. Why? Because the Father loved his son. Romans 2:4 says, “the kindness of the Father leads us to repentance.”
This story is incredible. The kindness and love of the Father exposes who I am at my worst. Even when I have done nothing to deserve the Father’s love, his love for me melts my heart. The Father’s love for me reconciles me to Him.
As I reflect on this beautiful story when I work with difficult people and people in difficult relationships, I find myself trying to apply this story of kindness. I can either react negatively out of emotion, or I can recall what the Father has done for me and respond with kindness. My desire is that I can trust God’s kindness toward me as I show someone else kindness, whether it is for my husband, my children, or my friends, and in so doing it might be the very opportunity that will soften hearts and lead others to repentance and reconciliation.