God Counts Different Than Us
Scripture Reading: Luke 15
Key Verse: Luke 15:10
“In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
This is the first time that my “Scripture Reading” suggestion is to read the entire chapter.
In my opinion, Luke 15 is unusual in that it only has one theme, illustrated by three different stories or parables that Jesus taught. Even though it only has one theme, that theme is one of the most difficult themes to integrate into our modern thinking. The theme of Luke 15 can be summarized in four words, “the value of one”.
In other words, from God’s perspective, every person is of infinite value. We want to truly believe that, but our habits and words betray us.
For example, when we see a pastor start a church with a hand full of people and it grows into a church of thousands of people attending, we can’t help but be impressed. We talk about that pastor and that church as really be blessed by God. And that might be a true statement, however it is also true that a small church, with only a handful of people can truly be blessed by God! Like the title of this devotion indicates, God counts different than us! From God’s perspective, it is NOT the amount of people attending, great or small, but are individuals being transformed by the power of God in their midst?
Jesus understands our trouble with seeing the value of one, He walked on earth feeling all the feelings and temptations that we humans experience. With that in mind, His teaching in Luke 15 consists of three “rapid fire” stories in which Jesus pounds away at the way God counts!
In Jesus’s first story, He talks in a parable about a man that had a hundred sheep. When this man realizes that one sheep had wandered off and was lost, what would that man do?
Understand that, in a day when shepherding was a very common occupation, the answer was simple. A good shepherd would leave the 99 sheep and go search for the one lost sheep. Jesus continues in this story to let us know this shepherd would not stop looking until he found the lost sheep. The story was concluded with the fact that when the shepherd returned with the sheep, he would call his friends and neighbors together and have a party celebrating the fact that his lost sheep was found.
Jesus didn’t leave it to the crowd to figure out the moral of that story. He wanted everyone to be very clear about how God counts: “In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away” (Luke 15:7).
Father, help me to always remember how valuable one person is to you! In Jesus’s Name I pray, amen.