This is the audio from the November 20, 2022 sermon, “Loving the Ungrateful: LIFT Them!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.
Text: Luke 15:25-32
As we continue our “Loved By Jesus, Love Like Jesus” series, we will consider a few people who encountered Jesus and experienced His love in the midst of their ungratefulness. Then we’ll dive into the ending of the story Jesus told about the prodigal son and look at some lessons from Jesus of how that father loved the ungrateful.
Nine of ten lepers — Luke 17:17
Jesus healed them even though they did not return to give thanks.
The people of Jerusalem — Luke 13:34
Jesus longed for them to know His protection even though they had not appreciated His coming.
You and I — Romans 5:8
Jesus loved us enough to die for us while we were as ungrateful as possible — dead in our sins.
How thankful are you? Would the people around you agree? Would God agree? How has, and does, God love you when you are not as thankful as you ought to be? By examining how Jesus loved the ungrateful and looking at the love of the father for the older son in the story of the prodigal son, we find that we can love like Jesus when we learn to . . .
- Love Them. Luke 15:28
- I suspect that most people find it uncomfortable and discouraging to be around those we consider to be obnoxiously ungrateful. When we read the reaction of this older son in the story of the prodigal son, we aren’t left to wonder what the father’s reaction was . . . the father loved him and pleaded with him to join the celebration. The ungratefulness of the son did not lessen the father’s love for him. In fact, I think it actually makes the father’s love more obvious. It shouldn’t take too long when we consider our own life to realize that we have been that ungrateful child more often than we care to admit. Yet, just like the father in the story, Jesus loves us and pleads with us to come home. When we choose to lift the ungrateful like Jesus does, we must chose to love people no matter what.
- Include Them. Luke 15:31
- While our first reaction to someone that is chronically ungrateful probably would have us running in the opposite direction, the father in our story did his best to remind the son that he was, and had always been, part of the family. When our ungratefulness isolates us, it simply leads to an even deeper level of ingratitude. Our act of including those who feel unappreciated goes a long way toward lifting them from the depths of despair that they may be feeling. Jesus sets the example when He sacrifices Himself so that we can be included and become children of God. When we choose to lift the ungrateful like Jesus does, we must choose to include them..
- Focus Them. Luke 15:29-30
- As we love and include the ungrateful, we gain an opportunity to help focus them. The father in our story let the older son talk and give his side of the story but he didn’t leave it there. Many times our ungratefulness comes because we can’t see the big picture yet we think we know everything that is going on. Listening to the stories told by others ought to help us have a greater understanding of what is important to them and why they are not thankful for what they have. When we choose to lift the ungrateful like Jesus does, we must choose to help focus people on the work of God that is taking place all around us.
- Teach Them. Luke 15:32
- The final part of loving the ungrateful enough to lift them is to take the time to teach. After our thoughts are turned toward God, we are better prepared to accept the teaching that He gives. When we love, include, and focus the ungrateful around us, and even within us, we set the stage for real teaching to take place. In our story, the father takes the time to teach the older son why they had to celebrate and just how big of a deal it really was for the younger son to return home. When we choose to lift the ungrateful like Jesus does, we much choose to teach them accurately and completely according to God’s Word.
Today, how will you LIFT those around you that seem to be ungrateful?