When Favor Seems Inequitable
“‘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
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. – Romans 12:15
The universal desire for acceptance is deeply ingrained in our human nature. However, alongside this longing exists a tendency to compare and compete, often leading to the dominance of pride, envy, and jealousy in our relationships. Paradoxically, our innate yearning for acceptance can falter when we encounter individuals we deem unworthy.
Although we may outwardly utter the right words and perform the right actions, our hearts may not always align with this acceptance. In such moments, both you and I require a fresh perspective, wise guidance, and practical tools to navigate the complex terrain of favor seeming unjust. Thankfully, the parable of the prodigal son, recounted by Jesus, offers profound insights into this conundrum.
Upon the return of his wayward younger son, the father's exuberant embrace and joyful welcome were immediate. Yet, a subtle undercurrent of resentment took root within the heart of the older son. He struggled to reconcile his demand for fairness with the celebratory atmosphere of forgiveness. In this juncture, the father intervened, gently reminding all present that his favor transcends notions of fairness - it is universal, boundless, and freely bestowed. True grace does not require parity for us to feel profound gratitude.
The father's assertion, "We had to celebrate," resonates deeply. It signifies a deliberate choice to rejoice, but also hints at a divine orchestration at play. The response to recovering anything lost—be it coins, sheep, or sons—is a jubilant festivity. Remarkably, within this narrative, two sons stand as metaphorical representations of those lost. One physically departed and returned humbled, while the other remained within the home, burdened by a hardened heart. Guided by unwavering love, the father extends acceptance to both offspring, thereby charting a noble path forward for all of humanity.
In moments when life's blessings seem unfairly distributed, it's natural to grapple with frustration rather than embracing gratitude. Reflect upon instances where you may have hesitated to celebrate another's divine blessings or transformative journey. Why do we sometimes question the generosity of God towards others, even as we praise Him for His goodness to us? The heartening truth is that the heavenly Father welcomes us with open arms, regardless of the state of our hearts. Once we internalize this truth, we can embark on a journey to exhibit compassion and love toward those we encounter, even in times when favor appears inequitable.
Taking actionable steps based on Romans 12:15 offers a compelling strategy for allowing God to soften our hearts. Consider individuals whom the Lord is inviting you to celebrate alongside or mourn with. As you relinquish the need for strict fairness, you create space to embrace and celebrate God's favor extended to whomever He chooses to welcome into His embrace. Be well.