God loves sinners. The Pharisees hated sinners. Their teaching was “there is joy before God when those who provoke him perish from the world.” They despised that Jesus spent so much time with tax collectors and sinners, many of whom made up Jesus’ followers. But Jesus welcomed them.
Jesus used three parables to teach three truths about the heart of God toward sinners.
Lost Sheep: God searches for sinners and rejoices when they are found.
Lost Coin: God values sinners, no matter how invaluable they appear to us.
Prodigal Son: God restores sinners, no matter what they’ve done.
It’s always humbling to be reminded of God’s affection toward me. I was a sinner, just as those whom the Pharisees hated. But God loved me, sought me and restored me into his presence. It’s almost too much considering how offensive my sin was before Him. But then, I remember what it cost God to do all that and it becomes overwhelming.
But I also see myself in the Pharisees. I look at lost people today and I don’t have God’s heart for them. I get frustrated by their choices, or worse, apathetic. When I lack care for them I lack the heart of God. Am I really hurting for those without God? Do I really care that they are lost? Sinners have problems, lots of problems, but that doesn’t stop God’s love and it shouldn’t affect mine. Don’t avoid those around you who don’t have Jesus. Show mercy. Act kindly. Listen. Pray. Wait for the opportunity God will give you to speak of his amazing gift of love: Jesus.