(Continuation from APAD DAY 42)
When we find out what pleases the Lord, we identify with it regardless of how difficult it is; when we find out what displeases Him, we disassociate with it regardless of how inclined we may be to it. The Lord is pleased whenever a sinner repents and accepts salvation. On the contrary, the Lord has no pleasure when the wicked dies.
"Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?"—Ezekiel 18:23.
The Bible tells us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways His ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). This explains why in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk. 15:11-32), our human reasoning would question what kind of a father is one portrayed in the parable. To begin with, he doesn’t ask his son questions when he (the son) comes for his inheritance. When the son makes a move to travel, he doesn’t make an attempt to talk him against going away. When the son comes back, he doesn’t even seem to listen to the repentance narrative his son was voicing. He promptly calls for a party and doesn’t even care to invite the elder son to come and take part in the party. All these gave the elder son grounds to be angry.
The father in the parable can only represent God. There are many things that God does that don’t seem fair in our human estimation, but that is the essence of His ways and thoughts being higher than ours. If the elder son in the parable loved his father, it wouldn’t have been enough that he obeyed him in everything. He ought also to have made a choice to seek the father’s pleasure at whatever cost. If he did this, he could have forgotten his interests in favour of his father’s pleasure. The father was pleased that the lost son was back home. For the sake of his love for the father, the elder son ought to have identified with the father’s heart and be pleased on his [father’s] behalf.
It was established in my heart once more that the fraudsters are more lost than my money and that the loss of souls grieves the Lord more. His grieving is not as much that I am at the verge of losing the money as it is that He is at the verge of losing a soul. Because I love the Lord, I decided to grieve over what grieves Him and be pleased with what pleases Him. So I pray for these people to refund me not primarily because it is a terrible thing to lose a lot of money but because it is an eternal tragedy for these people to lose their soul. Jesus asks:
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”—Mark 8:36-37.
Radical and Paradoxical
Some of the teachings of Christ are so radical and sometimes confoundingly paradoxical that they don’t make any sense to the carnal reasoning. Consider for example the following:
"… and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again…
"And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again."—Luke 6:29-30, 34.
This is radical because who in his right mind will ‘reward’ an extortionist? If he takes my cloak and I let him have it, isn’t that senseless enough? How would I follow this by giving him my coat as well? It is equally paradoxical because what kind of a steward would just let go of things that he is supposed to be taking care of? If these things belong to somebody else and the time comes to give an account, how can a steward say that he was defrauded and never cared to pursue restitution? How senseless would it be to report that he also gave away more to the same person who defrauded him? Is this really good stewardship? These are not mere rhetoric questions. The answers thereof differentiate the divine wisdom from carnal one. There must be a very good reason why the Lord Jesus said those things. If it comes to this, we don’t need to worry because the One before whom we will give an account is the very One who pointed out that He expects us to exude that kind of ‘irrational’ behaviour.
The ultimate owner of everything we have is God. He is the One who decides what we do with the things He has put in our custody. If He says let go, then He knows why. The apostle Paul echoes what the Lord Jesus said in the sermon of the mountain regarding how to handle fraudsters.
“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.”—1 Corinthians 6:7-8.
The above scripture shows that fraud was found among brethren. It was not basically between non-believers and believers. That is sad. The next question that comes up is: These people who defraud, are they still Christians? Every believer knows what drives them: some know that they are in Christianity because they are pursuing material gains; some started as genuine believers but are distracted by intervening opportunities luring them into materialism; others are just ‘careless,’ allowing themselves to be hypnotised by the devil. The latter are the kinds that do wrong things and yet behave as if it is not a big deal.
Does that mean it is alright to defraud because the brother will not take you to court, or expect you to pay back? No, not at all! The reader must have noticed that just as the defrauded is asked not to go to court, the fraudster is asked not to defraud—“Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.” The warning that follows the above scripture is chilling. Defrauding is a type of stealing and such will never inherit the kingdom of God.
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”—1 Corinthians 6:9-10.