"Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’“So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any." Luke 15:11-16
When Jesus wanted to illustrate the Great Commandment He told a story about a good Samaritan so you can always have a vivid picture of what it looks like to be an "I am 3rd" person.
This Samaritan thought 3rd at every point in this parable, he thought third in his time commitment, he thought third in his compassion for the injured man and he thought third with his cash when he paid the cost of medical care for the man who was mugged.
It was for the purpose of illustrating how God loves you He told another well-beloved story known as the Prodigal Son. In this moving parable you see the "I am 3rd" love of the father (who represents God).
I'm sure you are familiar with this parable but you may not realize the word "prodigal" means "extravagant". So this is a story of extravagant love. Who in the story demonstrated an extravagant love? The only thing extravagant about the wandering son was his foolishness.
But therein lies the power of this parable. The extravagant "I am 3rd" love God has for you is in spite of your extravagant foolishness!
I can't speak for you, but when I read this story my lack of "I am 3rd" love gets exposed because I tend to think the father got it wrong by giving his son the inheritance he demanded. The son was clearly in an extreme "I am first" mode or maybe even an "I am only" mode and was on a self-destructive path. Why would the father fuel the foolishness of his son by financing his fantasy with the family fortune?
Only as you consider this story from an "I am 3rd" perspective do you begin to understand the extravagance of the father's love. His "I am 3rd" love had the courage to allow the foolish son to imprison himself with his selfish "I am first" love. He understand that only a steady diet of self-centered slop would cultivate an appetite for the "I am 3rd" love he offered.
Such is the power of "I am 3rd" love. The wise loving father knew that!
You and I need to learn the power and depth of "I am 3rd" love and often it takes some time in the pig-pen to figure it out. Ultimately it was the longing for the "I am 3rd" love of the father that brought the son home.
Regardless of where you find yourself this morning will you surrender to His "I am 3rd" love?