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Seeking The Lost
In life, there are times when someone or something of value is lost. I’m reminded of Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. ” Notice that God’s word assures us that when we seek, we shall find. That’s a promise! So then the question becomes: How do I effectively seek the lost? From the text, it is conclusive that seeking is more than just aimlessly searching and looking without certainty of finding that which we are seeking. The circumstances surrounding the lost will dictate how we seek.
In Luke 15, Jesus uses 3 parables to help us answer the question of seeking. In verses 3-7, a man has 100 sheep and loses one of them. He leaves the 99 and goes after the one lost sheep until he finds it. This kind of seeking is founded upon unselfish compassion for others. It also requires a strong familiarity with your physical surroundings and a deep understanding of the character of the lost. The man undoubtedly retraced his steps, while focusing on the character of the sheep to lead him to where the sheep was. Sometimes, we have to temporarily leave others to find the lost; relying upon our compassion for the lost and what we know to guide us. When the lost is found, there is great rejoicing! I think about how as a child, my siblings and I often played Hide-and-Go-Seek; where one person would seek to find the rest of us in hiding after counting to a certain number. In order for the seeker to find each of us, she had to first leave her base, and then use her familiarity of where we were playing along with her knowledge of our personalities and character to find us. The game was not over until everyone had been found. Likewise, the man in Luke 15 was not content until all 100 sheep were accounted for. The one lost sheep was just as valuable to him as the 99 that were in the fold. He would not leave any lost; not even one.
In verses 8 -10, a woman loses a piece of silver in her house. She has 10 pieces; but one is lost. She springs into action by: (1) lighting a candle, (2) sweeping the house, and (3) seeking diligently until she finds it. This kind of seeking requires us to seek within the confines of right where we are. There is no need to go outside of our 4 walls. The lost is among us. We must diligently seek for them until they are no longer lost. Never give up on them. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matt. 5:16). There is much rejoicing when that which is lost is found! Just last week, my cell phone’s battery was down to the last bar. When I went to plug it into the charger, I could not find it. I looked in all of the usual places and yet the charger was no where to be found (or so it seemed). I was becoming a little frantic. I began to brainstorm and seek more diligently for it. Suddenly, I noticed it (not in any of the usual places) but just where I had left it the last time I used it. It was there the whole time, just waiting to be found. As long as it was lost, it could not serve its purpose.
A third kind of seeking contrasts from the previous two in that it is demonstrated more inwardly than outwardly. In fact, many will look at you resting in God and think that you are not seeking at all. Verses 11-32 illustrates this inward-kind of seeking when a son leaves his father and goes off into a far country. Even though his son did not follow proper protocol in leaving; his father nevertheless earnestly obliged him. In verses 17 - 19, the son comes to himself and decides to go back home to his father; not as a son, but as a servant after spending all that he had. Verse 20 tells how the father saw his son a great way off and had compassion; running and falling on his neck, kissed him. For in verse 24, the father declares “this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” This kind of seeking requires compassion, unconditional love, the ability to intercede in faith on behalf of the lost, and then resting in God while waiting for Him to act. In other words, in this case, we must seek the lost by completely seeking God and then trusting Him to bring back to us that which is lost. As parents, it can be quite difficult when our children make decisions that wisdom tells us are not in their best interest. Like Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 10:23NIV, we know that "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive.”Yet, just like the father in this parable, we may have to give them their time and space to take risks and make life choices that we may not agree with. However, just like the father in this parable, we can still continue in expectation, prayer, and intercession until they ‘come to themselves’ and then welcome them with open arms when they do. There is much rejoicing when he who was lost is found!