Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Participating in Grace
Deut. 22:1 ¶ You shall not watch your neighbor’s ox or sheep straying away and ignore them; you shall take them back to their owner.
Deut. 22:2 If the owner does not reside near you or you do not know who the owner is, you shall bring it to your own house, and it shall remain with you until the owner claims it; then you shall return it.
Deut. 22:3 You shall do the same with a neighbor’s donkey; you shall do the same with a neighbor’s garment; and you shall do the same with anything else that your neighbor loses and you find. You may not withhold your help.
In Deuteronomy we find all kinds of interesting rules and regulations regarding everyday life for the Israelites. Much of the advice is very practical. Here, the people are taught what to do when they find an ox or a sheep wandering away. Even if it doesn't belong to them, they are to go after it. They are to take care of it and take it back to its owner. If the owner lives a long way away, they are to care for it until the owner returns. This rule doesn't just apply to oxen, but also with donkeys, garments, or anything else that you may find. You are not to ignore the lost items, but rather, it is your responsibility to take action.
In the New Testament we have another story, the one of the "Lost Sheep" where we discover the actions of the owner. In both cases, the owner is out searching for the item that has been lost, and the who finds the item cares for the one who is lost. Both of these perspectives teach us a great deal about God's grace.
God's grace is constantly reaching out to each and every single one of us, drawing us toward him. We are to become workers together with God in his gracious activity here on this earth. That is a part of his plan, that we join together with him. When we join with him there is something that seems to happen, something synergistic, when God and man work together in his kingdom. Therefore while God -- the owner is seeking the lost, there may be times that we, too, run into the lost. What are we instructed? We are never to ignore the lost, nor are we to withhold help from them. You see we are actors in God's work of prevenient grace. Our responsibility is that we are to be constantly reaching out to those who are lost, and caring for them, keeping them safe until the owner is able to come.
Think about those with whom we come into contact on a daily basis -- are there any who are lost? Of course there are! Are we ignoring them? Are simply watching them wander off? Isn't it amazing that if we were truly talking about an ox or a donkey we all know that we would go after them, and yet, when it comes to another person, we don't go after them. We let them go. We let them wander around and get lost. God is asking us to be his active agents in the world. This is a part of our responsibilities as followers of Christ. We are to take care of the lost and in doing so we are stepping into and becoming involved with God in his gracious activity here on this earth.
Lord, please help me never to ignore, or simply watch the lost walk away. Amen.